After nearly two months of sitting on the bench in street clothes, Illinois center Mike Thorne Jr. announced on his Instagram today that he will return to the court tonight for the Illini's matchup against Indiana. Thorne was sidelined after he tore his meniscus and underwent surgery back in late November.
The last time he was on the floor, John Groce's squad was trying to spring a major upset over then-No. 4 Iowa State. He was averaging 13 points per game, 8 rebounds per game, and one block per game. After missing eleven straight contests, in which the team went 6-5, it will take some time for the Illini to readjust to having a presence in the paint, but it is a much welcomed addition to a squad that is desperate for some positives. Perhaps Thorne's return will be the motivation and spark that the team needs to string together some conference victories.
Thorne will likely be hampered by a minutes-restriction tonight, and possibly Saturday's game at Minnesota as well, as he eases his way back into the starter's role. Regardless of how much he plays tonight, the big man will be a sight for sore eyes for Groce and company.