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BREAKING: Illini Freshman Jayden Epps to Transfer

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Illini Freshman Jayden Epps will transfer
Mar 16, 2023; Des Moines, IA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Jayden Epps (3) dribbles the ball against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the first half at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports Created:

Unfortunate Breaking News for the Illini: Freshman Jayden Epps to transfer.

It was announced the Illini will have to find a new starting point guard for next year, as Jayden Epps announced his intent to enter the transfer portal. Epps was a top-75 prospect who committed to Illinois shortly after de-committing from Providence. Epps was a known scorer on the prep circuit and was in line for major minutes. Jayden certainly played the part at the beginning of the season. Despite being wired to score, Epps showed outstanding poise and decision-making that allowed him to usurp the role of Skyy Clark.

The Illini’s freshman point guard was playing at least 25 minutes a game and showed that his scoring ability on the prep circuit would translate to the Big Ten. He was averaging double-digit points and playing with an efficiency that many freshmen struggle to achieve. However, he ran into a freshman wall later in the season. Epps started to lose his shooting stroke from the perimeter and started to struggle on the defensive side of the ball.

The Freshman wall

Every freshman has their bumps. Ayo Dosunmu went through multiple games his freshman year where he looked out of it, Trent Frazier notably could not hold his own against Eastern Illinois, and more. Quite frankly, Jayden’s struggles started in the final weeks against Northwestern. Some of the older guards really took advantage of Epps’ stature, and Underwood was very clearly on the sideline in Jayden’s face. Epps also was hospitalized after a significant scare in practice. Though the details are unknown, Epps reportedly collapsed and suffered a Concussion which took him out of the final games of the regular season. Epps attempted to return during postseason play, however, clearly was not himself.

Epps will likely choose a destination closer to his East coast roots. His family seems very involved in his career, and I would expect a Big East or ACC program to pick up the talented scorer. These leagues are outstanding in their own right, however, are less physical than the slower, brutalizing pace of the Big Ten.

Where does Illinois go?

There is no secret that Illinois is after a veteran ball handler in the transfer portal. Perhaps this opens up more options for Illinois as plenty of ball handling time has become available. Illinois has prematurely been after Georgetown transfer, Primo Spears and will likely kick the tires on shooting guard, Brandon Murray.

Epps had a strong freshman campaign. He showed that he could be a huge piece of the future. However, the transfer portal has an unfortunate nature. The portal removes the personal fandom of the game. Multi-year guys like Trent Frazier, Ayo Dosunmu and Malcolm Hill slowly became a part of Illini fan’s memories as we slowly got to witness their growth. The transfer portal is an outstanding option for players to find the right scenario, but it detracts from the personal fandom that made college basketball so much fun.

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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