For the last two seasons, Jermaine Hamlin’s role on the Fighting Illini was to relieve the big men when they get into foul trouble, and to eat up minutes at the end of blowout wins. Because of the team’s roster depth this year, Hamlin saw a slightly reduced role in his sophomore season compared to his freshman campaign.
As a freshman, Hamlin saw the court 16 times, compared to only eight this year. In 2019-20, he played in eight Big Ten games, but the majority of his minutes came in the non-conference schedule. In his best game, he played 12 minutes against D-II Lindenwood going 3-for-3 with 8 points.
Fast forward to the 2020-21 season, Hamlin’s best game was a 2-for-3 shooting performance against Minnesota in which he got two dunks. His last time on the court was 2 minutes in Illinois’ blowout win at Michigan.
Unfortunately for Hamlin, he was one of only two Illinois players that didn’t get to play in the NCAA Tournament this year. While it’s difficult to parse what exactly that means for the center, it likely doesn’t bode well.
Fortunately for Jermaine, the departure of Giorgi Bezhanishvilli, and the possible departure of Kofi Cockburn, can only mean more minutes for the Lincoln native.
The recent addition of Brandin Podziemski means that there’s one more roster spot available, and two if Kofi leaves. While this could go to another recruit, it could also be used for the return of Trent Frazier, Da’Monte Williams, or potentially even (although extremely unlikely) Adam Miller.
What does this mean for Jermaine Hamlin?
If all of the right pieces fall into place, Hamlin could grab a sizeable part of Illinois’ offense. Illinois fans, however, will probably be a little more comfortable if Hamlin remains a reserve player next season.
Either way, one thing is certain. As Da’Monte Williams would say, we’re all rooting for you, Dr. Ham.