Fighting Illini fans are understandably excited about this roster — arguably the program’s best in 15 years. Ayo Dosunmu & Kofi Cockburn are the headliners, and a dynamic cast of freshmen have joined them in Champaign. But the player I may be most excited to see this season is the one we probably know the least about.
Redshirt-junior Austin Hutcherson sat out the 2019-20 season after transferring from D-III Wesleyan University. From TCR’s commitment brief last summer:
Hutcherson led the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) in scoring last season with 20 points per game. He shot 44.4 percent from the field — including 39.2 percent from long range — and an impressive 88.5 percent at the free throw line. In two seasons at Wesleyan, he scored 847 points in 54 games, and was a 41 percent three-point shooter for the Cardinals.
The 6-foot-6 Hutcherson has gotten high praise from head coach Brad Underwood, who said this offseason that Hutcherson may be the best athlete on the team — quite a statement, all things considered.
What to Expect
While he won’t average anywhere close to the 20 points per game he put up at Wesleyan, Hutcherson could be an X-factor for the Illini. This team desperately needed perimeter shooting; Illinois finished tied for 302nd nationally in three-point percentage (30.9%), along with known college basketball juggernauts Grambling, Manhattan, and Abilene Christian.
Having Hutcherson on the court — even only situationally — figures to be a huge boost. He’ll likely be in a rotational role with Holy Cross transfer Jacob Grandison for the next two seasons.