There's no question the additions of Marcus Domask, Quincy Guerrier and Justin Harmon were overlooked this offseason.
None of the transfers were particularly flashy additions, which likely contributed to the lack of hype around them coming into the season.
Domask and Harmon both came from mid-majors and Guerrier’s stats steadily declined the past few seasons.
However, these three guys all play their roles well, which will provide consistency to a team that needs it. We all saw what last season was like with that lack of consistency.
After just two exhibition games, it’s clear that the three fifth-year seniors will be crucial to the success of the team.
Five guys scored for Illinois in the 2nd half...— Derek Piper (@DPiper247) October 30, 2023
Shannon: 23 years old
Guerrier: 24 years old
Domask: 23 years old
Harmon: 22 years old
Hawkins: 21 years old
Illinois was one of the youngest teams in the country last season. It showed.
Illinois is one of the oldest teams in the country this season. The season hasn't even begun yet, but it’s showing.
Brad Underwood had a clear strategy in mind when he attacked the transfer portal this offseason. That strategy was to acquire veterans. Mission accomplished.
As I previously mentioned, none of the veteran additions were particularly special on their own. But combining three guys 22 or older with two other experienced and All-B1G caliber players in Shannon and Hawkins makes the Illini a special team.
Get nightly contributions from Dain, Ty, Luke, and maybe the freshmen, and this team becomes a top team in the country. But let’s get back to the transfers.
In crunch time vs. Kansas, Brad Underwood turned to his veterans and his transfers. Shannon, Hawkins, Domask, Guerrier and Harmon closed out the game and managed to pull out the victory.
Domask even took over the point guard role late in the game and did a fine job, showing that he's more than capable of being a Swiss army knife for this squad.
Guerrier turned into a beast in the second half. He got to the line with ease, hit a clutch three, and attacked the glass.
Harmon had a couple of nice layups, a beautiful cut, and played solid defense late in the game.
These guys are unselfish. They make the right plays. They don’t get rattled in high-pressure situations.
It’s clear that Underwood already has a significant amount of trust in this group of transfers, and it’s crucial that he does.
Illinois has a couple of huge games early in the season. Marquette comes to town in less than two weeks. Tennessee and FAU are on the schedule in the next month.
The Illini did knock off a couple of highly-ranked teams last season, but if they do it again this season it will be due to other reasons.
The UCLA and Texas wins were awesome, but they were undeniably flukes. If the Illini manage to pull out a win against one of these top teams, I think it will be because of the additions of the transfers, and not because Terrence Shannon shot 90% from beyond the arc.
Marcus Domask was the highlight of the Ottawa exhibition. Quincy Guerrier was the highlight of the Kansas exhibition. I’m sure Harmon will have a breakout night soon.
These guys are all capable of being the star any given night because they've all done it before. They're also capable of leaving the spotlight and doing the dirty work.
They understand their roles night in and night out. Last year’s team had guys that didn't understand that they don't have to try to score 30 points every night. It’s why they didn't win games.
The unselfishness, consistency, and experience of the team is going to be on full display this season. Of course, that starts with Terrence and Coleman. Marcus, Quincy, and Justin will be secondary players that embody those three traits every game though.
I can't wait to see these guys play a game that actually counts! College basketball is really almost here!