The last time Te'Jon Lucas was in Champaign it didn't go so well. Playing against Champaign Centennial, Lucas suffered a broken fibula in two places in his right leg. It caused him to miss the remainder of his senior year at Milwaukee Washington High School, but both doctors and coaches were very optimistic that his injury would heal before arriving at Illinois. Fast forward to four months, and Lucas will report to the U of I campus tomorrow morning on the fast track to recovery. In late May he was cleared to resume activities such as running, jumping and jogging, and he hopes to be back on the court for full workouts soon. Team workouts for the Illini start next week.
For head coach John Groce and company, Lucas's arrival couldn't come soon enough. He averaged just over 20 points per game for Milwaukee Washington before getting hurt, and was clearly one of the best point guards in the state. Landing the four-star recruit was a huge get for Groce, but Lucas's potential immediate impact on the 2016-17 team is an even bigger positive. He'll wear No. 3 for the orange and blue, joining a pretty impressive list of names he'll have to live up to including Brandon Paul and Chester Frazier.
Illinois' point guard troubles have been well documented; since 2013 Fighting Illini point guards are averaging 6.8 points and 3.7 assists per game. While we saw flashes of quality play from the likes of Ahmad Starks, Jaylon Tate and Khalid Lewis, Illinois hasn't had a consistent scoring and distributing PG in years. Tracy Abrams' health has been a huge factor in the lack of recent guard success, but even when the six year graduate returns to the court this season he'll be two years removed from playing in a college basketball game and depth will be a requirement.
That's where Lucas comes in. While Abrams will most likely be the starting point guard, Lucas will also get a lot of playing time. The combination of Abrams' recent injuries and the need to have guard depth after the dismissal of Kendrick Nunn means that Te'Jon might see an inordinately large amount of minutes for an incoming freshman. If anybody has the skills set to immediately contribute for Illinois it's Lucas.