With the news that Greg Eboigbodin will also be transferring out of the program, Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball has upped the ante on what was already one of the busiest offseasons in recent memory from an attrition standpoint. This makes six players who left the program with eligibility remaining, as Spicy G joins Leron Black, Michael Finke, Matic Vesel, Tejon Lucas and Mark Smith in this category.
It’s currently early June and the roster only has two players over 6’6”, both of whom are incoming freshmen. There are three open scholarships available. Four players from last year’s roster will return for the upcoming campaign.
Without an explanation from our pilot in Brad Underwood, we’re left to simply hope that he remains functional and the controls are responding correctly. So, what is he doing?
Theory 1: Underwood Is Looking To Create A Pipeline To The NBA
With a small and relatively inexperienced roster playing the way last year’s Illini did, there’s a possibility that the master plan is to sent players to the first round of the NBA Draft in consecutive years. Here’s how this will work: Ayo Dosunmu will redshirt and the whole scheme will be funneled towards getting Trent open looks, even at the expense of giving up easy points (since the roster can’t stop anyone from scoring in the paint anyway). Winning games is not the objective; the objective is for Trent Frazier to put up ridiculous stat lines so that he starts to get coverage like Trae Young did last year and that someone in the NBA doesn’t bother filtering by context and takes him way too early.
Then next year, it’s Ayo’s turn. He goes even higher, and now Underwood can credibly say “I put players in the NBA, do you want to get drafted?” The 2020 class adds a full starting lineup of NBA prospects after this pipeline is established.
Theory 2: Underwood Is Planning To Secure James Wiseman With The Accumulation Of Uncashed Scholarships
The #1 player in the 2019 class is center James Wiseman, who has not yet announced a destination. Underwood ran with two open scholarships last year, so by the time the basketball season starts, he’ll have five years worth of accumulated open scholarship to offer Wiseman on top of the traditional four. Underwood is merely conserving his resources and biding his time; surely Wiseman is worth 2.25 scholarships, no?
Theory 3: Underwood Will Have The Best-Conditioned Backcourt Of All Time In 2019/20
If there’s simply nobody on the bench to take your place, you can’t be subbed out. This means Illinois gets more conditioning out of the game than its opponent. That’s just Brad Underwood squeezing as much efficiency out of the system as he can. By 2019/20, Ayo and Trent will be fresh with four minutes to go in the game having played all of it to this point. This is the kind of innovative thinking that demonstrates that someone’s playing 3D chess while his opponents play tic-tac-toe.
Theory 4: Underwood Plans To Trade An Open Scholarship For Romeo Langford
Indiana currently doesn’t have enough open scholarships to take any new 2018 players. But what if we could offer them a way to take TWO new players? We’ll trade one of our open scholarships for Romeo Langford, who will then take one of our remaining scholarship. Indiana will then have two new picks in the 2018
draft recruiting cycle, while our other open scholarship will be reserved for a Player To Be Named Later that Indiana will also include as part of the deal
Theory 5: Underwood Is Losing Control Of The Program In An Astonishingly Short Timeframe
Just kidding. Come on, you know I had to throw in a joke suggestion somewhere in this list!