In his most recent 2023 NBA mock draft, ESPN analyst Jonathan Givony has two Illini being selected in the first round. Givony predicts the Hornets would select F/C Coleman Hawkins at No. 24 and the Rockets selecting wing Terrence Shannon, Jr. at No. 27.
Obviously, this is a way-too-early mock, so there isn’t much factual rumor mongering to glean from his analysis. But in his story, Givony does a deeper dive on Illini prospects. I won’t spoil it because he does brilliant work behind a paywall, but I encourage you all to check out his story. While he is high on both Shannon and Hawkins, he tempers his optimism on both players.
While each of the two has had a ceiling game thus far, is that a level that each player can reach consistently? That’s a fair question, and the jury’s still out on what kind of season each player will put up.
Some other mock drafts have mentioned Matthew Mayer and RJ Melendez as potential draft prospects. Mayer brings length and versatility, but has struggled with consistency this season. His perimeter shot has been particularly unpredictable. He is also the only player on the Illinois roster who runs out of eligibility at season’s end, so if he’s going to improve for NBA scouts it has to be now. Melendez has the length, shooting stroke, and athleticism to become an NBA 3-and-D wing. But will he put it all together this season?
With Illinois opening its conference slate against Maryland on Friday, keep an eye on the evolution of this roster in terms of NBA products.