Due to some uncertainty surrounding the 2016-17 roster, John Groce will almost certainly be exploring the transfer market this offseason for some potential additions to the program. According to ESPN's Jeff Goodman, Louisiana Tech big man Merrill Holden is one option that's already expressed interest in joining the Illini.
La Tech grad transfer Merrill Holden told ESPN he is looking at UNLV, Cincy, Illinois, Alabama, Iowa St, Jacksonville and Central Florida.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 14, 2016
Holden, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward, averaged 8.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks as a junior while shooting 51.6% from the field (71.4 FT%). You can view his complete 2015-16 game log right here. The Chicago native is graduating from Louisiana Tech this Spring, so he'll be eligible to play immediately next season.
Illinois is still waiting on a decision from the NCAA in regards to Mike Thorne Jr.'s hardship waiver. If granted, the senior will be back for a sixth year of college ball and the Illini won't have an extra scholarship to dish out at the moment. That isn't likely, though. When the request inevitably gets declined, Maverick Morgan, Michael Finke, and maybe Leron Black will be the only true front court players on the roster.