Happy Thursday, Illini Nation!
The coast is finally starting to clear on Goode Island. You’re probably wondering what Goode Island is, and why I’m using such a lazily crafted metaphor. Give me a minute to explain.
Although current sophomore Illinois guard Luke Goode hasn’t played a single second of the season to date, his potential impact has Illini fans foaming at the mouth. Appearing in 28 games as a freshman with an average of about nine minutes per contest, Goode didn’t put up eye-popping numbers in his first campaign, for obvious reasons.
Goode showed flashes of sniper qualities and head coach Brad Underwood commonly gushed about Goode and his “leadership qualities” and “competitiveness.”
The Ginger Assassin is 6-foot-7 and two hundy on the scale. That’s a big guard in a system that is designed to take advantage of size and shooting, the results of fellow sophomore guard RJ Melendez to date notwithstanding.
Goode has been out of his boot for a few weeks now, and his calculated return to full practice is only impeded by a little more time and a final X-ray confirming a perfectly healed bone.
No more speed, we’re almost there. Gotta keep cool now, gotta take care.
It’s not radar love...it’s almost Goode time.
What does it all mean for the current state of the roster, Big Ten and who gets less tick when he is re-inserted into the lineup? After all, Goode was a projected starter before the injury during the Worst Kept Secret Scrimmage in History against Kansas.
Projecting the impact of Goode on the court.
If the cat isn’t already out of the bag, I’ll further spare any suspense. Goode’s potential remains inculpatory evidence of the outer-space ceiling of this current Illinois basketball team.
By the postseason: 21 mpg, 7.5 ppg, 3.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists. PER of 18+/- (with 12 being average).
Goode’s aforementioned size and scheme fit notwithstanding: he brings the intangibles necessary to compete in the Big Ten landscape, as well as the NCAA Tournament.
Remember the Houston game last spring? It keeps me up at night, about once a week.
Let’s imagine, for a moment, a lineup of the following players, all playing relatively well to extremely well:
- Jaden Epps
- Terrence Shannon, Jr.
- Luke Goode
- Matthew Mayer
- Coleman Hawkins
That’s a scary thought for any opposing defense, particularly in short bursts. Especially if you just banged into Dain Dainja for the last seven minutes under the hoop.
I would say that a terrific comparison of Matthew Mayer Light would be apropos. Who doesn’t want another one of those guys?
Goode also adds depth to a relatively deep cast of characters. Goode will also further stretch the defense, particularly in the half-court setting. The overwhelming majority of struggles for the Illini offense comes when transition doesn’t yield a bucket.
Goode can shoot it, he can post it and he can certainly rebound it and defend it. He even dives on the floor, and will fight you for it.
It would not be ridiculous to assume he could knock down at least 35% of his trifectas and give Mayer and others some respite on the defensive end drawing major assignments.
There are no trades in college sports. This will feel like a blockbuster.
The most likely minute casualties come from Sencire Harris and RJ Melendez.
We know this won’t effect the psyche or determination of Harris. He will continue to play his role and play it well for the remainder of the season, and career in Champaign. Harris has immense trouble putting the ball in the basket.
Harris’ elite skill is playing harder than anyone. He needs some time to develop his body and strength to compete for long stretches at this level.
Harris from the foul line without analysis, but with proofreading: 20%.
I haven’t thought about this before gathering info on this column.
Is RJ Melendez pressing with the thought of fellow sophomore Goode being activated from the injured list? This is clearly rhetorical, but also has merit. Melendez has struggled mightily shooting the ball, in particular.
Here is his 3-point percentage (on 68 attempts) without analysis: 26.5%.
I would counsel more of this, Ramses:
Harris and Melendez have both performed admirably on the defensive and rebounding aspects of the game. Offense has been an issue.
Harris (14.4) and Melendez (21.7) play a combined 36.1 minutes per game. Expect a large slice of the Goode Pie to come from this pizza of minutes.
With team chemistry an ongoing saga, the addition of Goode could be seen as a roadblock to success...but won’t be.
This will not be on Goode himself, or even the fault of Underwood. The way the team is perceived by the media, and on social media, has to be factored into the equation.
I doubt this comes to fruition. Goode is a well-respected member of the roster by the players, coaches and fans. He has earned minutes and a chance, even without being available to date.
The two largest benefactors to the return of Goode will be Coleman Hawkins and the already mentioned Mayer. Goode can bang down low and on the wing defensively. Imagine what eight fewer minutes of intense defense will do for each player.
Underwood has not announced a specific start date to the 2023 Goode era, but the day is fast approaching. If I was a betting man, I’d say his debut will come at home against Nebraska next Tuesday, albeit in extremely limited action.
This is Illinois basketball.