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2018-19 Fighting Illini Superlatives

We’ve got all your 2018-2019 TCR superlatives for Fighting Illini athletics.

It’s coming to the end of another school year. Most of the collegiate sport seasons are coming to an end.

As you know, we at TCR take everything very seriously, since you are probably not a first-time reader. We decided on some end-of-the-year awards. We hope you enjoy.

Most lovable: Giorgi

I don’t want to say I called it, but I was irrationally excited about Giorgi coming to Illinois. 90% of his highlight tapes online were him dribbling and dunking with a basketball trainer. I knew next to nothing about him, except he might be versatile. We were desperate for bigs, so I figured he would do.

Oh boy, did he prove so many people wrong. After being ranked somewhere in the high-300s as a highschool recruit (and only entertaining offers from the likes of Hofstra, among others), he ended up as a near-All-Big Ten Freshman — I think he should’ve gotten Wieskamp’s spot, but I’m biased — with 12.5 points and 5.2 boards per game on 55% shotting from the field. His shot blocking also really improved as the season went on.

He was funny. The media loved him.

Plus, moments like this:

Most likely to be successful/bring a national championship to Illinois: The volleyball team

I wrote last week about how the Elite 8 game against Wisconsin, which sent the Illini to the Final Four, was my favorite moment of the year.

Year in and year out, the volleyball team has been the cream of the crop for Illini athletics. Even with a new coach, the team was able to smell a national championship. Although most notably Jordyn Poulter and Ali Bastianelli are moving on after graduation, there is a lot returning talent, and the rest of the country should have Chris Tamas’ squad on their radar. It might not be too long before we see a national championship from the volleyball team.

Most likely to break your ankles: Reggie Corbin

This award could be presented without comment, because you know exactly what I’m talking about unless you were silly enough to not watch any football this past fall. Even in some bad losses, Corbin shined. Changing direction was his specialty, like his 80-yard reverse for a touchdown against Wisconsin.

He had a few good moments against Penn State, too.

I could keep going with gifs and videos here, but you get the idea.

Most likely to immediately make your day better by returning to school: Ayo Dosunmu

I am not joking when I say that I was sitting by myself and could not hold back a cheesy smile when I saw Ayo’s announcement that he would be coming back to Illinois for his sophomore season.

I mean, seriously, this is the single coolest thing I’ve seen as an Illinois fan for as long as I can remember. With the addition of Kofi and a potential transfer wing, I think things are cooking for Underwood & Co. Thanks, Ayo. We love you.

Most likely to kick a ball over them mountains: Chase McLaughlin

McLaughlin earned his title of Big Ten Kicker of the Year. He was money from beyond 40 yards, making nine kicks from 40+ and five from 50+. He also led the conference in scoring with 96 points.

What’s most impressive? He wasn’t on scholarship his first two years on campus. It’d be neat to see Chase suit up in a different orange and blue uniform, if you know what I mean...

Most athletic/most likely to beat anyone at any sport: Jordyn Poulter

Poulter is a 6-foot-2 All-American who led the volleyball team to the Final Four. Have you ever watched a full volleyball match with her playing? (Trick question, I know you have.) So you should know exactly how athletic she is. The answer is very athletic. I would bet my mortgage on her over anyone in pretty much any sport. Book it.

Best facial hair: Lovie

There were no other nominations in this category.

Loudest: Brad Underwood

Presented without comment.

Most Illini person: Josh Whitman

Whitman has received his fair share of both criticism and support, but there is one thing I think most people can agree on: he has restored the hope and optimism of many Fighting Illini fans. Will it all pan out? Will Lovie take us to a bowl, and can Underwood get his team back to the Big Dance? Will any of the sports (such as volleyball, gymnastics, and golf) that are oh so close to a national title complete the ultimate goal?

I don’t have the answer to that. But I honestly believe that things are on the up and up, and Whitman has a lot to do with that. I know my fair share of professors and administrators from my time in Champaign think very highly of Josh. His Illini spirit shines through in press conferences and fan interaction. He is incredibly intelligent, and I trust that he knows exactly what he is doing.

Plus, donating $100,000 to the football renovations? That’s one hell of a flex. Thanks, Josh. We love you.

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