The Illini are coming off a 2022-23 season where they fell short of expectations, finishing 11-9 in the Big Ten and losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Arkansas. Head coach Brad Underwood will look to bounce back with a revamped roster that features six returning players, four transfers, and three freshmen. Here is a breakdown of this year’s roster.
Terrence Shannon Jr. (5th, 6’6”, 225 lbs): The Chicago native transferred from Texas Tech ahead of the 2022-23 season and averaged 17.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season for the Illini en route to All-Big Ten honors. He’s returning for a fifth college season after testing the NBA draft waters along with teammate Coleman Hawkins.
He is a versatile wing who can score at all three levels, defend multiple positions, and provide leadership and toughness. He is expected to be the go-to scorer and leader for the Illini again this season.
Sencire Harris (So., 6’4”, 160 lbs): The former four-star recruit from Ohio had a quiet freshman season statistically, averaging 3.7 points, 2.1 assists and 0.9 steals per game. He is a quick and athletic point guard who can create for himself and others in transition and apply his signature on-ball pressure defense to generate energy and turnovers.
He will likely be a backup to the more senior additions at the guard position and help run the offense for the Illini. Harris will have to make strides on offense to hold his spot throughout the season.
Luke Goode (Jr., 6’7”, 210 lbs): The Indiana native continued his strong shooting last season, making 42.1% of his three-point attempts and averaging 4.0 points per game, but didn’t make the impact many were expecting. His year was primarily derailed by a leg injury during a preseason exhibition against Kansas that sidelined him for most of the season.
He is a tall and skilled guard who can stretch the floor, provide strong intangibles on the court and in the locker room, and pass well into the post. He will be a valuable floor spacer, defender, and secondary scorer for the Illini if he stays healthy.
Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn (Fr., 6’1”, 165 lbs): A former Purdue commit, the freshman from Indiana was ranked as a 4-star recruit by ESPN. He is a dynamic scorer who can get hot from beyond the arc and attack the rim with speed and agility.
He will provide instant offense off the bench and challenge for minutes in the backcourt.
Keaton Kutcher (Jr., 6’2”, 165 lbs): The walk-on transfer from South Dakota averaged 2.5 points per game last season and has shot 48.4% from three-point range for his career in a limited reserve role. He is another sharpshooter who can come in off the bench and knock down shots from deep, most likely in non-pressure situations. He will add depth and shooting to the guard rotation.
Niccolo Moretti (Fr., 6’1”, 160 lbs): The freshman from Italy played at DME Academy in Florida last year and joined the Illini midway through last season to get early reps in practice and the weight room while adjusting to college life. He will have an excellent confidant to lean on as he adjusts to the college game in his brother Davide Moretti, who played for Texas Tech and was part of the Red Raiders’ 2019 title game run.
He is a crafty and creative point guard who can handle the ball, pass well, and score in various ways. His style will nicely complement the depth of senior scorers on the roster. He will be a developmental project who could see some minutes as a backup point guard.
AJ Redd (So., 6’3”, 160 lbs): The sophomore from Chicago is a former walk-on and team manager who played sparingly last season. He is a hard-working, energetic guard who can defend well and play intensely. He will be a spot player who likely won’t see many minutes outside of non-conference play.
Quincy Guerrier (5th, 6’8”, 220 lbs): The transfer from Oregon and former Syracuse big man was one of the most significant additions for the Illini this offseason. The third time was the charm for the Illini in their recruitment of Guerrier, as the Illini were in the final three of Guerrier’s recruitment out of high school, along with Syracuse and Oregon.
He averaged 9.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season for the Ducks. He is a physical and athletic forward who can score inside and out, rebound well, and defend multiple positions. He will likely see significant minutes at the power forward position and form a formidable frontcourt with Dainja and Hawkins.
Dain Dainja (Jr., 6’9”, 270 lbs): The junior from Minnesota had a breakout season last year, averaging 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks per game while shooting 63% from the field. He is a strong, skilled big man who can score in the post, pass well, and protect the rim.
His strong footwork makes him a problem in back-to-the-basket situations for opponents, as he’s nimble enough to get around taller players to finish at the basket and too strong for smaller, faster defenders. He will likely start at the center position and anchor the paint for the Illini.
Coleman Hawkins (Sr., 6’10”, 225 lbs): The senior from California had a solid season last year, averaging 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game but struggled shooting from distance at only a 28% clip. He tested the NBA draft waters with fellow teammate Shannon but ultimately returned to Champaign to further hone his game, consistency, and decision-making. He is a versatile, mobile forward who can stretch the floor, handle the ball, facilitate the offense, and run the floor.
He will be a crucial starter who can play both forward positions and provide matchup problems for opponents. Improved decision-making and shot selection will be critical for him in enhancing his future pro prospects and Illinois’ success as a team this season.
Ty Rodgers (So., 6’6”, 200 lbs): The sophomore from Michigan was a highly touted recruit who had a relatively quiet freshman season statistically, averaging 3.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting 52% from the field. However, his energy and impact on rebounding, defense, and auxiliary ball handling significantly impacted the Illini last season.
He is a long, athletic wing who can slash to the basket, finish above the rim, and defend well. He will look to improve his shooting and consistency and earn more minutes in the rotation, likely seeing plenty of time at point guard, according to his head coach.
Amani Hansberry (Fr., 6’8”, 225 lbs): The freshman from Maryland comes in with great fanfare, ranked as the No. 69 prospect in the nation by ESPN and is the reigning Gatorade boys basketball player of the year in Maryland. He is a powerful and explosive forward who can dominate the boards, score in the paint, and block shots, but he also flashed some deeper range in the high school ranks.
He will be an impact player off the bench and provide physicality and energy to the frontcourt.
Marcus Domask (Sr., 6’6”, 215 lbs): The Wisconsin native and transfer from Southern Illinois averaged 16.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season for the Salukis. He is a smart and skilled forward who can shoot, pass well, and play within the system. He will add experience and depth to the forward rotation.
Justin Harmon (Sr., 6’4”, 180 lbs): The Chicago native and Utah Valley transfer averaged 14.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last season for the Wolverines. He is a tough, gritty wing who can score in transition, rebound, and defend well.
He will be a glue guy who can do the little things and help the team win while providing another scoring threat to support Hawkins and Shannon.
If things come together, the Illini have a balanced and deep roster that can compete for the Big Ten title and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Shooting and decision-making were critical weak points of last year’s Illini team, and this year’s iteration should have more weapons and experience to make strides in those areas.
They have a mix of veterans and newcomers, scorers and defenders, shooters and slashers, bigs and smalls. They have a lot of talent, versatility, and potential, but they must develop chemistry, cohesion, and identity as a team.
Underwood has work to do to integrate the new pieces, find the best rotations, and maximize players’ strengths.
The Illini have high expectations and aspirations this season but will face many challenges and competition in the Big Ten and beyond.