Matic Vesel was an unknown quantity when he signed with Illinois coming from Slovenia. It was clear by his highlight tape that he had some decent athletic ability and good size, but he was seen largely as a project player who needed to add more weight and strength to be able to handle playing high-level college basketball.
In an ideal world, Vesel would have taken a redshirt in 2017-18 rather than being thrown right into action. We don’t live in an ideal world, however.
Illinois needed minutes from big men, and Underwood chose to play Vesel early knowing he wasn’t quite ready with the hope that he would improve as the season went on.
Sadly, he didn’t improve over the course of the season. It was obvious that Vesel wasn’t ready physically or fundamentally.
This offensive possession shows just how far he still has to go.
Check out my boy on this possession. The George Gervin of screening no one. pic.twitter.com/AI0qAMKx5J— Bob Zuppke (@BobZuppke) February 18, 2018
There were rumors and grumblings after the season ended that Vesel’s time with the Illini would end after one season, but it seems (as of March 26) that Vesel will be staying with Illinois for the time being.
He can still improve — especially with a full offseason to work on his body and his fundamentals — and potentially be a useful player for Illinois. He’s 6-foot-9 with plus athletic ability at the very least. The coaching staff and Vesel will look to find a way to put that to good use in the future.
Let’s look at some possible scenarios.
Worst Case Scenario
Vesel does some work in the weight room, but it’s clear he just isn’t good enough to play at this level. He doesn’t have the court awareness and basketball IQ to be a contributor on offense, and his defensive liabilities make him unplayable.
Brad Underwood then “Creans” Matic Vesel and forces him to leave Illinois.
Most Realistic Scenario
Vesel shows improvement, but still isn’t ready to be a key part of the bench rotation. He plays in the odd game here and there when the game is already decided, and he’ll show some flashes with his plus ball handling and passing for his size.
He further cements himself as a meme for Illinois fans, and gets the Brian Scalabrine adoration and applause from fans when he makes a rare appearance.
Best Case Scenario
The same as the most realistic scenario, but people will also stop tweeting “muh-TEETS!!” every time he comes into the game thinking they are being funny.
We get it. His name sounds funny. We don’t need 25 people pointing that out every single time.