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Illinois’ Marcus Domask receives conference, national honors after big week

A triple crown as Marcus mania enters the national spotlight.

TCR // Jack Jungmann

If you didn’t know Marcus Domask before, you definitely know him now.

When Domask committed to play for Illinois last April, he was weeks removed from a four-year career at Southern Illinois, where he was a starter for all four years. In his senior season, he averaged 16.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists, shooting 44.7% from the floor and 34.8% from three.

In two games last week, Domask averaged 29 points, 5.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 59.4 percent from the field, 66.7 percent from beyond the arc, and 90 percent from the free-throw line.

On Monday, the Southern Illinois grad transfer earned recognition as the Big Ten Player of the Week. Domask was the MVC’s player of the week on one occasion last season, a year in which he finished First Team All-MVC.

On Tuesday, he was named both the Associated Press Player of the Week and one of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s five Oscar Robertson National Players of the Week.

While Illinois is only three games into its Big Ten campaign — a small sample size — Domask is leading the conference with 24.3 points per game in conference play.

Domask’s role has increased in recent weeks as a result of Terrence Shannon Jr,’s Dec. 28 suspension. Shannon was leading Illinois in scoring, averaging 21.7 per game before he was suspended.

In 11 games pre-TSJ suspension, Domask averaged 10.7 points. He’s scored 79 points in the three games post-suspension, raising his average on the season to 14.07.

Even when Domask’s signing was first announced, Illinois head coach Brad Underwood had high praise for the Waupun, Wisconsin native.

“He can play anywhere on the court, shoots threes with great range, is an elite passer, can play in ball screens, and is effective in the post based on matchups. Marcus has been at the top of everyone’s scouting report in the Valley his entire career but still scored it at a high level throughout that time. He fits what we’ve been looking for in terms of a proven veteran player with versatility.”

Domask’s success, coming from a mid-major school, has been a pleasant surprise to many, including Underwood himself.

During his media availability on Wednesday, the former mid-major head coach reflected on his first impressions of Domask and shared his thoughts on the player he’s been so far for the Orange and Blue.

“We knew what we were getting. He’s exceeded the success rate, maybe, that I thought he would have,” he said.

“Marcus elevates,” Underwood said, highlighting his assist numbers and his three-point shooting, which has improved after a slow start the season.

“I think he’s one of the best-conditioned athletes I’ve coached,” Underwood said of the former Saluki. “We’re asking a lot of him but he’s very capable and he’s been spectacular.”

Domask is the first Illinois player to earn Big Ten Player of the Week since TSJ on Nov. 21 of last year, and the first to earn the USBWA’s weekly honor since Brandon Paul was selected in December of 2012, according to an Illinois press release.

While Shannon’s suspension has resulted in Underwood losing a potential All-Big Ten player and All-American, it may have opened the door for a different fifth-year senior to become a star.