Former Villanova guard Dylan Ennis has announced that he'll be suiting up for the Oregon Ducks next year--he'll have one year of eligibility remaining as a graduate transfer. Ennis, who selected Oregon over Illinois and Baylor, made his decision after visiting his three finalists last weekend. The former Lake Forest Academy (IL) standout started all 36 games for the Wildcats this past season and averaged 9.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per contest.
Why not? Dana Altman has quietly built a respectable program in Eugene as the Ducks have gone to three straight NCAA Tournaments. It's arguably the best program out of his three finalists--certainly better than Illinois at this point in time.
Ennis is transferring from Villanova because he's, "interested in finding a school that will allow him to play the role of a traditional point guard so he can be the primary ball-handler." He'll be able to do exactly that at Oregon. The Ducks already have commitments from 5-star guard Tyler Dorsey and 4-star guard Kendall Small, but that's a better situation than Ennis would've received at Illinois.
It's also possible that mutual ties to Nike influenced this decision. Tony McIntyre, Ennis' father, is the co-founder and owner of the CIA Bounce, which is the premier Canadian AAU program (Nike EYBL).
Impact on Illinois
Barring a miracle decision from 2015 target Marcus LoVett Jr., it appears the only other remaining point guard option for Illinois is UT-Arlington graduate transfer Johnny Hill; he averaged 9.6 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.0 turnovers per game last season while shooting 46% from the field (25% 3PT). According to CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein, Hill is visiting Champaign on Wednesday. He wouldn't have the same impact as Ennis, but he'd provide a little depth at the position.
As for the current roster, Tracy Abrams is the team's leader, but he'll be coming back from ACL surgery and is a huge unknown at this point. Then there's Jaylon Tate. It's hard to imagine him being much better if he isn't able to develop something that resembles a jump shot this offseason.
Projected 2015-16 Depth Chart
|Point Guard||Shooting Guard||Small Forward||Power Forward||Center|
|Tracy Abrams (SR)||Kendrick Nunn (JR)||Malcolm Hill (JR)||Leron Black (SO)||Mike Thorne Jr. (SR)|
|Jaylon Tate (JR)||Jalen Coleman-Lands (FR)||Aaron Jordan (FR)||Darius Paul (JR)||Michael Finke (FR)|
|D.J. Williams (FR)||Maverick Morgan (JR)
Illinois still has one remaining scholarship for the 2015-16 season. In addition to Marcus LoVett and Johnny Hill, the Illini have also expressed interest in former Eastern Illinois forward Chris Oliver. He averaged 13.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season and was the team's most efficient shooter (54.2% from the field). Like Ennis and Hill, Oliver would be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer.