Which areas has Illinois basketball struggled with in recent years? Defense and rebounding would probably be two of the top responses, but how many of you would've said athleticism? It didn't exactly take a trained eye to see that John Groce's squad was lacking explosiveness, after all.
To help improve the roster, the Fighting Illini hired former Towson staffer Adam Fletcher as their new Strength and Conditioning coach last Fall. So far the early returns from his first full offseason have been rather impressive. Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself.
Note: prepare for a small flood of updates and videos from Fletcher's Twitter account.
@_TA13 has been special with nutrition and training consistency down 5%BF, and added 4inches to the vert since 4/11 pic.twitter.com/93lGp9jFLI— Adam Fletcher (@Adam_Fletcher41) July 19, 2016
@maverick_morgan has added 3 inches to his vert and is dunking everything in summer workouts with ease pic.twitter.com/HvyGrKsqqx— Adam Fletcher (@Adam_Fletcher41) July 19, 2016
@Malcolmillini21 drop step windmill after the team workout today pic.twitter.com/BuApJKxRXB— Adam Fletcher (@Adam_Fletcher41) July 19, 2016
@bigmikethorne12 maxed out the vert today going over 12ft pic.twitter.com/55k14hagmu— Adam Fletcher (@Adam_Fletcher41) July 19, 2016
@_TA13 above the rim after the team workout #illini pic.twitter.com/DTRrfevP8i— Adam Fletcher (@Adam_Fletcher41) July 19, 2016
When this hire was made before the 2015 season, John Groce stated that Fletcher has "quickly earned a reputation as one of the best young S&C coaches in all of college basketball." That's hard to doubt after seeing these transformations.
As fantastic as this progress is, though, it begs a rather important question: what the hell was Illinois' previous strength coach doing? With the exception of occasional NBA-type athletes (which Illinois doesn't have), upperclassman should be relatively maxed-out by their senior years. But here we are seeing some pretty remarkable improvements over the course of a few short weeks and months. I don't know about you, but I wish a change was made way sooner.
If you're looking for more on the team's training regimen under Fletcher, definitely check out this in-depth profile by Illini Inquirer's Jeremy Werner. It details pretty much everything you'd need to know, including techniques being used to combat the program's nagging injury bug.
July 19, 2016 Poll Question Results
Illinois Fighting Illini Links
- Dr. Robert Jones named new Chancellor of UIUC (TCR)
After a long and arduous search, The University of Illinois has announced that Dr. Robert Jones will be the school's new Chancellor, pending formal approval by the Board of Trustees on Thursday.
- Brandon Paul agrees to deal with Philadelphia 76ers (CSN Philly)
Paul may be a rookie, but the 25-year-old has years of basketball experience. He went undrafted out of Illinois in 2013. Since then he has played for the Canton Charge (D-League) as well as Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) and FIATC Joventut (Spain). Paul most recently averaged 13.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists for FIATC Joventut.
- Illinois makes the top 6 for four-star big man Theo John (TCR)
In an announcement on Twitter, the Minnesota native declared that his top six schools are Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue, Oklahoma, Marquette, and California (no specific order). John is currently the No. 128 overall player in 247Sports' class-of-2017 composite rankings.
- Fighting Illini training camp will be open to the public (TCR)
Football season is drawing nearer and nearer for the Fighting Illini, and we now have an official start date for Fall training camp. Illinois announced their 2016 preseason schedule on Tuesday, and it features 16 practices at Memorial Stadium.
- Dre Brown giving back to community as rehab continues (WCIA)
"I always say that I want to be the role model that I never had growing up," Brown said. "So, just being able to share words that people have given me to them at such a young age, it's just huge. We love doing it. We speak at churches and what not, so it's great."