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Why LJ Cryer is a Fit for Illinois Basketball



Feb 18, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Baylor Bears guard LJ Cryer (4) puts up a shot during the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

LJ Cryer should be a priority target given his fit for Illinois Basketball

The transfer portal has had some notable names arise. Many prominent basketball schools have seen their lead players enter the transfer portal. Hunter Dickinson, Caleb Love, Max Abmas are all very recognizable names who have had success at the NCAA level, however have all decided to move on from their current situations. Illinois has seen two starters enter the portal themselves and are currently in search of adequate replacement.

Brad Underwood and Illinois are searching for adequate replacement, however most definitely are searching for a point guard.

Why Cryer is a Fit.

LJ Cryer may not be your true traditional point guard that is looking to set others up. During his three years at Baylor, he was used as an off-ball handler and scorer. Cryer filled that role exceptionally. He shot 43 percent from the three point line in his past two seasons, and put up 30 points in their NCAA tournament loss to Creighton. In an interview with 247’s Brandon Jenkins, Cryer chose to enter the portal in search of an opportunity to play point guard.

He would undoubtedly slide into that role at Illinois. Cryer is arguably the most sought out guard in the transfer portal, given his proven track record to score the ball on a winning team. In terms of his weaknesses, Cryer is smaller guard at 6 foot 1. Would he be able to hold up defensively? Additionally, the guy wants to play point guard, however averaged 2.0 assists last season. Though it clearly was not his role to distribute, would he able to make others around him better on a team like Illinois?

Stout competition to land Cryer.

LJ is from the Houston area. Hence, a few teams stick out to me in terms of a logical destination. The Houston Cougars come to mind. Kelvin Sampson is a proven winning coach, and helped give Quentin Grimes the platform to leap into a starting role in the NBA. However, The Cougars will return Jamal Shead. Shead is there true point guard who has averaged close to 6 assists the past two seasons.

Cryer was also recruited to Baylor by current Kansas State coach, Jerome Tang. Tang’s Wildcats just an outstanding season resulting in an elite-eight finish lead by a similar kind of player in Markquis Nowell. Nowell thrived in Tang’s offense and became a national story on K-state’s postseason run.

Regardless, Illinois WILL be involved. When Underwood was head coach at Oklahoma State, he offered the 6 foot 1 guard during his freshman year of high school. 

A top target but not the only target.

As with all of these top transfers, Illinois will be going against AP Top 25 teams across the nation. If Illinois lands Cryer, I would expect an Alfonso Plummer like impact. Cryer is an absolute microwave of a scorer. He may not have the explosive 3 point capacity that Plummer had, however in terms of dynamic shot-making, LJ Cryer fits that bill. Illinois has welcomed two transfers from the Baylor Bears in Dain Dainja and Matthew Mayer. Mayer can certainly attest to the NIL potential that Illinois has, which may help in the pitch for Cryer.

As stated before, I expect Illinois to continue to be patient in their “portal season”. There are many names that are sure to pop up given the nature of the one-time transfer rule. Additionally, as the NBA draft selection process starts to clear up, more names (like Mayer) will show up on the Illini’s radar. Portal options will be out there, however it is safe to say that LJ Cryer would be a fit for the Illinois Basketball program.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.