If you were surprised that Sencire Harris didn’t see the court in Illinois’ season-opening win over Eastern Illinois, you weren’t alone.
But it’s not because Harris is in the doghouse. According to head coach Brad Underwood after the game, Harris will redshirt the 2023-24 season, a move Underwood said was Harris’ decision.
“He’s a really good player,” Underwood said. “One of the things that he understands about his development is that he needs to get stronger, he needs to get bigger.”
Harris played in all 33 games last season as a freshman, starting seven of them. He averaged 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
“Down the road, instead of 10 minute a game guy, there’s going to be a 25 minute a game guy,” Underwood said. “There’s going to be a guy that adds 15 pounds, 18 pounds.”
He was mostly a spark-plug off Illinois’ bench, but he started seven games. As one of the returning guys this season, I think many of us expected a bigger role for Harris.
“He’s been an unselfish guy that has put himself in a position that he’s always going to play minutes, but he wants to be something special,” Underwood said. “And to do that, he’s got to gain weight and continue to grow his offensive game.”
Now he has the chance to work on himself in the gym and come back for the 2024-25 season with three years of eligibility. Illinois’ backcourt depth also likely won’t be as deep at that point.
Thank you all for respecting my decision to redshirt for basketball. Your understanding and support mean the world to me. Knowing that you all respect and stand by this choice allows me to focus on my personal growth and development, also be there for my team during this time.— Sencire Harris (@SencireH) November 7, 2023
Anywho, this may be a sign that Harris is planning to stay in the program past this season, since he could have just already left and tried out a new team. Just don’t expect to see him anywhere but the bench the next few months.