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Does Illinois Basketball Already Have Their PG?

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Does Illinois Basketball Already Have Their PG?
Mar 9, 2023; Chicago, IL, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Jalen Pickett (22) defends against Illinois Fighting Illini forward Ty Rodgers (20) during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Does Illinois Basketball Already Have Their PG?

Illinois Basketball has had a mixed offseason. Despite returning their two star players, the fanbase has had qualms regarding the point guard position. Illinois Basketball clearly felt the same way. They pursued RayJ Dennis until the very end. Despite being favored at a point in time, the plan to lure the lead guard back to his home state failed miserably. This entire saga left Illinois in a rather difficult position. The timing of the saga dragged on for a month and a half. Given that they failed, options are thin in the portal and Illinois Basketball now has no open scholarships.

However, I wanted to take a dive into the options on this roster. Particularly, it seems that Illinois Basketball may be handing the point guard keys to a player that was on this roster last year.

Ty Rodgers may be that guy

Ty Rodgers just seems to understand the process of development. He notably struggled to find the floor as a true freshman and often looked out of place at the beginning of the season. His lack of a perimeter shot limited the 6 foot 6 top 50 prospect, and he had to adjust to the strength and quickness of college athletes. However, Rodgers was notably patient and honest with the media throughout the season.

Rodgers had a tremendous end to the season. Though he continued to struggle with shooting the ball and with free throws, Rodgers found a way to translate his motor to the floor. Through the last 18 games, Rodgers averaged around 5 rebounds per game. He also showed his ability to defend and even handle the ball.

Can he be the point guard though?

If Rodgers takes the point guard reigns, there has to be some concern. He is not a proven ball handler and distributor and he is rather limited offensively. Teams will certainly let Ty shoot from the perimeter, and Ty will have improve from that stand point. His free throw percentage is also concerning, however I am sure that he is focused on that during this offseason. Ohio State once let Evan Turner run the point guard position for an extremely talented and successful Ohio State team. Turner was obviously a different player than Rodgers, but one of the aspects that made them successful was the fact that Thad Matta let these guys run free.

My point is that if Brad Underwood has any chance of this working with Ty Rodgers, he has to let them play through mistakes. Particularly early on. I am not saying that Brad needs to coach these guys any less harder. However, there certainly is a line between pushing these guys and instilling belief in his players. Underwood failed at the latter, and he will have to figure out how to succeed at that in this year.

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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