Illinois basketball’s 2017-18 roster experienced two major changes this week thanks to the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, and the departure of junior guard Jalen Coleman-Lands.
The Fighting Illini are back to four open scholarships, and while this last-minute recruiting picture is still taking shape, one thing is for certain — the frontcourt needs more bodies. Luckily, Brad Underwood may be on the verge of a solution.
Georgetown graduate transfer Akoy Agau informed FanRag Sports’ Jon Rothstein that he’s currently considering Illinois, SMU, Maryland, Washington State, Old Dominion, and California State Northridge as a final decision nears. The 6-foot-8 forward took a visit to Champaign earlier this month.
Georgetown grad transfer Akoy Agau tells me he's considering Washington State, Illinois, SMU, Cal State Northridge, Maryland, and ODU.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 26, 2017
Last season, Agau averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 50.6% from the field and 84.0% from the free throw line.
Agau discussed his four of his finalists — Illinois, Washington State, SMU, and Old Dominion — in a recent interview with Scout. He seems well aware of the fact that the Orange and Blue have minutes to give away in the post.
“They’re in the Big Ten, and that’s one of the toughest conferences out there. Plus they only have two frontcourt guys,” Agau said of Illinois. “It’s tough to win basketball games, let alone in the Big Ten, with two big guys. So the opportunity for me to play is there. It’ll be coach (Brad) Underwood’s first year. He was at Oklahoma State last year and was able to turn that program around within a year.”
Technically, Agau has one year of eligibility remaining. However, he’s applied to receive a sixth year from the NCAA due to a season-ending pelvis injury in 2014-15, and if that request is accepted, he’d be able to stick around through 2018-19.
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This transfer takes so much pressure off of other players. It's an immediate patch over the JCL hole. It's still a desperate situation - without any additional trasnfers (there are still a few out there), walkons are going to play some mintues, y'all - but Alstork filled a huge gap.
An athletic department spokesman said Illinois never saw the documents the Tribune obtained when vetting [Orlando] Antigua before hiring him. He said Underwood and Whitman spoke to "as many people as possible and gathered as much info as they could where they felt confident in their findings and moving forward with the hire." The spokesman confirmed that their information matched that of the documents.
[Mark Smith] is a high-character guy, a man's body (6-5, 225). Explosive and strong. An absolute grand slam for Brad. I think a four-year player, a program guy who will have a great career. He carries himself the right way and wants to play for the state school.
The Illini do have familiarity with the course. Illini golf coach Mike Small has played there several times. Juniors Dylan Meyer and Nick Hardy and sophomore Edoardo Lipparelli have played there during their collegiate seasons. So they'll have a head start before their one practice round on Thursday.