Brad Underwood played coy as he discussed his starting lineup preemptively. Basically he couldn’t guarantee who might be in it now that Ayo Dosunmu was in training camp with the Chicago Bulls. I imagine Trent Frazier, Kofi Cockburn, and Andre Curbelo would be surprised by this.
A buzz lingered on Lou Henson Court as Illinois players and coaches discussed the season ahead on Friday afternoon. Expectations are admittedly high for the Illini, who will almost certainly be ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll when it releases in mid-October. Players and coaches know this and don’t seem to be weighed down by this possibility either.
The insight of the players during interviews shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Illinois has an “old” team by college basketball standards with a 23-year-old foursome (Frazier and Jacob Grandison are among them) and even a 24-year-old (transfer to Utah Alfonso Plummer). Maturity shone as they answered questions for over an hour. They’re used to the spotlight after last season’s success.
Let’s just say Austin Hutcherson knows how much he has been discussed this offseason with fans curious about what he will actually bring to court. The former Division III player hasn’t played in a live game since the 2018-19 season after a transfer season was followed by a full year away from the game with a back injury. And the 6-foot-6, 190-pound wing isn’t fazed at all.
NG photo editor Robin Scholz was on media day to get standalone photos of each Illini. There were a few who certainly had fun with it. Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk made several attempts to get his behind-the-back pass photo just right. And Coleman Hawkins, who had major vibes of “happy to be here” on Friday afternoon, requested and got some bonus photos.
Scott Richey is a journalist covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is [email protected], and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).