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Should Illinois Basketball Try for Caleb Love?



Feb 4, 2023; Durham, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Caleb Love (2) is harassed by Duke Blue Devils fans as he tries to inbound the ball during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 63-57. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

On March 27th, North Carolina guard, Caleb Love announced that he will enter his name into the transfer portal. The Tar Heels are just coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in NCAA basketball history. After returning 4 of their 5 starters, along with some depth pieces from a team that just played in the national championship game, Hubert Davis’ squad did not even make the NCAA tournament. The Heels did not own a quad-one victory, and looked like a complete disaster. The onus fell on the returners and the coaches obviously. Caleb Love was an integral piece of UNC’s run to the championship game, however this season he became a villain.

Love looked disinterested in playing team ball, and oftentimes was chastised on Twitter for taking poor shots at the worst time. Statistically, Love sat similar to where he did the season prior, however, his field goal percentages went down. The junior combo guard shot a miserable 29.9 percent from 3 and did not build on what was an outstanding March Madness 2022. Many expected a mass shakeup of the UNC program and Love was the first major domino.

Why Illinois Should think about it.

Perhaps Caleb Love needs a change of scenery. Chapel Hill is always under the microscope. Their roster also contained a lot of talented players who need the ball. To say the least, Illinois does not project as that kind of team. With Terrence Shannon and Coleman Hawkins likely heading toward the professional scene, the Illini will once again be losing a large bulk of their usage. Additionally, the smoke that a freshman guard may also be leaving this roster, leaves a lot of opportunity on this roster. Love is a scorer, and he was asked to play off the ball a lot with RJ Davis sharing the backcourt.

Illinois currently projects to return Dain Dainja, Luke Goode, Sencire Harris, and Ty Rodgers. There simply is not any ball handling. Love also fits the mold of a veteran guard who can get his own. 

Why Illinois should keep searching

I personally think that Illinois should not even entertain Caleb Love. Down the stretch, Caleb Love took horrible shots and reminded me too much of how Matthew Mayer was just jacking up threes. Love also notably looked standoffish from his teammates. He likely was not the reason behind the UNC disaster, however, Illinois does not need that. Culture has become a huge question mark in this program, and a player like Love will not help.

Illinois needs to look for a veteran ball-handler that has a chip on their shoulder and is able to run an offense. They obviously need scoring help, but I do think a true point guard would do wonders for this team. It is a vague description, however, just think of how Andre Curbelo was able to set up his teammates when he was on. I am not saying that Illinois needs a pass-first guard, however, they need a balanced guard. Look at how Miami’s Nijel Pack and Isaiah Wong have efficiently balanced scoring and team ball.

Illinois should stay away from the microwave shot creators like Caleb Love. They have initially been linked to a player like Primo Spears. Like Love, Spears also is a score-first guard that Illinois should attempt to avoid. Right now, Illinois seems to be waiting for NBA draft pullouts. I think that is a sound approach given the number of names that will be in the Portal. Love and Spears are talented guards, but they are not what the Illini need.

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.