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Shannon Jr. won’t start vs. Rutgers, will come off bench

Illinois’ star guard will be back in rotation against the Scarlet Knights.

David Pollak // TCR

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Terrence Shannon Jr. will be back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against Rutgers after missing the last three weeks due to indefinite suspension.

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood met with the media Saturday morning at State Farm Center to deliver the news of how he’ll go about dealing with getting the star player back to playing form.

“Obviously Terrence has been gone for six games, he’s been gone for three weeks,” Underwood said. “There’s an integration process that takes place there.”

On Friday, federal judge Colleen Lawless ruled in favor of granting a temporary restraining order to Shannon, allowing for an immediate return to the team.

Underwood discussed the process of how he found out and when Shannon officially returned because of the ruling.

“Courts decided that Terrence Shannon gets back full status immediately,” Underwood said. “When Josh [Whitman] informed me of that decision, we had a late four o’clock practice and Terrence was available for that practice.”

This was Shannon’s first involvement with the team since the suspension was enforced Dec. 28, and Underwood emphasized it will take time to get him back fully adjusted to playing shape.

“I will not start him tomorrow,” Underwood said. “This is a phenomenal league, we got a great opponent in Rutgers, and there’s an integration process that will take place and be fair to everybody involved in that process.”

The Illini head coach does not know yet how much Shannon will see the court Sunday, and will get an idea of where he's at in Saturday’s practice.

“It will be feel, we’ll get a better idea today in practice of where just he’s at,” Underwood said.

Shannon had not been allowed to work out with the team, but he was still allowed access to use the facilities during his suspension.

“He was able to use managers, he was able to use [strength and conditioning coach Adam Fletcher], Terrence was in here a lot,” Underwood said. “But there were no team activities with our group.”

Underwood knows that Shannon won’t immediately return to his typical playing speed.

“Terrence has always been an extremely, extremely hard worker, but there’s also no conditioning like game shape, and having to play with adrenaline,” Underwood said. “You don’t miss three weeks and not have some effects.”

Shannon is not the only player this season who has been out of the lineup. Underwood discussed how resilient his team has been even with this being the case.

“This group has been extremely focused on the job at hand,” Underwood said. “Whether it was with Terrence gone in those six games, whether it’s been without Amani [Hansberry], whether it was without Coleman [Hawkins] early, this team has handled situations minus a teammate.”

While Shannon might be back, there is still the ongoing situation of the rape charge against him. Underwood acknowledged that, but stated that he’ll just be focusing on basketball and the players he coaches.

“It’s obviously still a very serious situation, I’m not going to talk about the emotion of Terrence or anybody else,” Underwood said. “It’s back to basketball and helping this team continue to move and strive forward.”

Illinois welcomes in Rutgers to State Farm Center Sunday at noon. The game will be televised on BTN.