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Matic Vesel will not return to Illinois Basketball, per Derek Piper

The Slovenian import won’t have a second season with the Illini.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Matic Vesel is leaving the Illinois Basketball program, per 247’s Derek Piper.

An import of Slovenia, Vesel was signed by the Illini in June of last year.

While there were not many expectations for Vesel to be an impactful player for Illinois in Brad Underwood’s first season in Champaign, Vesel seemed to often be overmatched by any competition. He often saw playing time toward the closing seconds of the first half and when Illinois’ front court was injured and in foul trouble.

Vesel’s stats are eye-popping in a bad way. He scored seven points — he had two points three times, including field goals versus Longwood and Nebraska — and eight rebounds in 70 minutes of playing time. He struggled at the free throw line, missing five of his eight attempts. Vesel also managed to have more personal fouls than points, registering 13 fouls on the season.

Overall, there’s no way around it: Vesel was not cut out for this level, and that’s a shame. He really seemed like someone who was making the effort to improve and just needed to add to his 6-foot-10 frame to be somewhat successful, but he won’t be given that chance with Illinois.

We wrote about Vesel in several of our player reviews and player end game articles this offseason. Here were some of our comments:

Player Review (Kyle Huisinga)

Now it sounds like for all intents and purposes that Matic is a nice kid, and I’m not trying to go out of my way to bash him, but he has a lot of work to do to be ready for this level. If he does indeed transfer (which has been rumored by several reputable sources), I wish him the best of luck. This team, in its current iteration, needs more though.

Player End Game (Brandon Birkhead)

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.

What’s the 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.

What’s the best 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.

Sadly, neither of those scenarios will happen. Vesel is gone, and the Illini have two open spots left now for 2018-19.