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Can Illinois Basketball Get Both Their Stars Back?

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Can Illinois Basketball Get Both Their Stars Back?
Mar 15, 2023; Des Moines, IA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (0) speaks as forward Coleman Hawkins (left) looks on during the press conference before their opening round game of the NCAA tournament in Des Moines at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Can Illinois Basketball Get Both Their Stars Back?

The Illinois Basketball program has had an eventful offseason. They lost two starters to the transfer portal and also emptied out the end of their bench into the transfer portal. Brad Underwood and his staff have also succeeded in their quest to get older. They added 3 players out of the transfer portal, all of whom will spend their final year of college basketball eligibility as an Illini. To some, this offseason may have seemed quiet due to the fact that all of the additions seemed to have happened within a very short window of time.

Make no mistake, Illinois Basketball is not done. They have their eyes set on arguably the top point guard in the transfer portal. Most importantly, their two star players are currently making a decision on their future.

Coleman Hawkins

Coleman Hawkins had a great junior season. Though he is best described as inconsistent and occasionally frustrating, the junior forward flashed his next level potential. Through a tumultuous season, Hawkins kept playing hard and wore his emotions on his sleeve. His honesty with the media has endeared himself to Illini fans, however he has a huge decision to make.

Currently, Nbadraft.net has Coleman as the 52nd pick in their most recent mock draft. Plenty of mock drafts have him somewhere in the second round. In short, Coleman Hawkins will likely be a second round pick. For context, out of the 30 second round picks in 2019, 9 of the players are still currently on an NBA roster. These players include: Nicolas Claxton, Cody Martin, Daniel Gafford, Jaylen Nowell, Bol Bol, Isaiah Roby, Talen Horton-Tucker, Terrance Mann and Jalen McDaniels.

Coleman Hawkins can certainly be a second round pick that can latch on to an NBA roster. A second round pick is not a death sentence, it is very dependent on where you land. Luckily, Ayo Dosunmu went in the second round to a great situation. Hawkins can certainly follow suit if that is what he wants.

Terrence Shannon Jr

Terrence Shannon Jr put up a career year in Champaign. The Chicago native seemed to love his time in Champaign. He vocally supported Brad Underwood and seemed to love having his family watch him often. His NIL potential is through the roof too. Like Hawkins, however, he has a decision to make.

Shannon Jr. has a similar draft profile as Hawkins. Almost all mock drafts have him in the second round, and nbadraft.net has him as the 60th pick. As mentioned above, if Shannon Jr lands in the second round, he has the tools to latch onto an NBA team. Herbert Jones of the New Orleans Pelicans is a good comparison to make.

From the players perspective, this is a win-win.

Both players could not go wrong with their decisions. However, I do feel like this point should be made: Their 2024 Nba draft profile will likely be the same. If that is the case, why not spend another year in college being the alpha dogs in the Big Ten, while also making a killing via NIL. Look, Hawkins and Shannon Jr can be NBA players. However, with NIL and the opportunity to be one of the best teams in the country, they have a rare opportunity awaiting them if they stay in Champaign.

The best teams in college basketball are made by players who could have left for the draft, however chose to stay one more year. Recent Illinois teams have confirmed this point. Ayo Dosunmu staying an extra year. Kofi Cockburn returned for his junior year.

The floor is yours boys.

Alex is the Owner of Armchairillini.com, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is a Resident Physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Northwestern Medicine and has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS sports and more.

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