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Illinois Basketball Player Preview: Austin Hutcherson

It’s finally time for Hutch to show what he can do.

Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

FINALLY. After two long years of waiting, Austin Hutcherson will be donning a Fighting Illini uniform in a regular season game. The coaches and media have been raving about the D-3 transfer since he came to Champaign, but after sitting out 2019-20 due to NCAA rules and redshirting last year due to a back injury, the 6-foot-6 Hutcherson is ready to go.

Look at that! Actual highlights!

I’ve been an unofficial Austin Hutcherson stan since he announced he was committing to Illinois back in the summer of 2019. It seems like eons ago. And Hutch isn’t just some dude. The NYC native was an absolute baller at Division III Wesleyan. From TCR’s initial write-up:

Hutcherson led the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) in scoring last season [2018-19] with 20 points per game ... In two seasons at Wesleyan, he scored 847 points in 54 games, and was a 41 percent three-point shooter for the Cardinals.

I love that Brad Underwood and his staff have dedicated themselves to looking anywhere and everywhere to find talent, from foreign-born transplants like Kofi, Giorgi, Andre Curbelo Andres Feliz, BBV, Samba Kane and Greg Eboigbodin, to under-the-radar in-state guys like Jermaine Hamlin and Brandon Lieb, to players like Jacob Grandison and Hutcherson who shined at a lower level and wanted the chance to prove their worth on a bigger stage.

What to Expect

Even though he’s a neophyte to Big Ten — or Division I — hoops, Hutcherson obviously has a skillset that suits this Fighting Illini roster well. He can score from all three levels, he rebounds and passes well, and has positional versatility.

With a logjam at guard and Kofi shelved for the first three games due to suspension, it wouldn’t shock me to see Brad Underwood roll Hutcherson out to split minutes at the hybrid “4” spot alongside Grandison, Coleman Hawkins or Da’Monte Williams.

While he hasn’t played a competitive college basketball game in two-and-a-half years (!) it’s clear the coaching staff has big plans for Hutcherson. And by all accounts he hasn’t just been waiting to play, he’s been preparing to play. Hutch bet on himself by transferring to Illinois. Now it’s time to see if that pays off. FINALLY.