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Illinois Basketball Signee Draws Coleman Hawkins Comparison



Armchair Film Room: Marcus Domask vs Ottawa

Illinois Basketball has recruited at a high level in the Brad Underwood era. Since 2020 the Illini have had a top 5 class in the Big Ten every year. After locking up Morez Johnson Jr. early, many were ready for a crown jewel class. Brad Underwood and his staff went another way, slow playing the class while they focused on piecing together their 2023 roster in the portal. Illinois got a commit from Jason Jakstys first in July, and then Jase Butler later in October. Both players signed their National Letter of Intent on early signing day, locking them up as future Illini.

Bird in the Hand

Both players are currently outside the 247 Sports’ Top 100, however both provide valuable profiles for the Illini. With Sencire Harris’ surprise redshirt throwing his future in Champaign in doubt, Illinois fans were quickly reminded how fickle things can be in the modern world of College Basketball. Outside of their basketball skills, both Butler and Jakstys won’t have the level of expectation both from the fans and themselves. This will hopefully allow for more roster continuity. It also will give the staff the opportunity to slow cook their development, instead of needing to throw them on the floor as soon as possible. This flexibility will allow them to be aggressive in the portal for starter quality players.

Instead of rolling the dice for higher ranked players, the staff trusted their evaluations. Now they need to cash in on their projections. Jakstys needs time in the weight room. Butler will need time to adjust to the jump from a small conference in California to the Big Ten. However, I can see the vision for both players.

Between the Lines

Jakstys provides Illinois Basketball with another long perimeter big. With Coleman Hawkins set to graduate, it is clear that the staff will want someone who can provide that same ability to play multiple frontcourt spots while dragging the defense to the perimeter. Jakstys is actually rated higher than Hawkins was, coming in at 110 in the nation. Rumor has it the Illini will look to redshirt him his freshman year, allowing him to get right physically while they look for a similar profile in the portal. Jakstys is someone you can play alongside any of the bigs that the Illini have on their roster with his perimeter skills. He also has shown the ability to hang defensively on the perimeter.

Butler fits the bill of a classic Underwood combo guard. At 6’4″ Butler also already has a big frame at 180 pounds. He’s not a crazy athlete, but his playstyle doesn’t necessarily need that. Much like Jakstys, Butler can play alongside any of the guards the Illini have (or could add). He can play on and off the ball, providing both playmaking and shooting. He’s currently 163rd nationally by 247, but some local California recruiting services have put him above St Mary’s commit Zion Sensley, who is 109th on 247. Don’t be surprised if Butler creeps up the rankings now that he has the Illini’s stamp of approval. He will likely win his conference player of the year award back-to-back, and he will put up production.

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Brian is a former sports writer for the Daily Illini who has been covering Illinois Basketball for over 5 years. Brian is now the lead basketball reporter for Armchair Illini, the go-to source for Illinois athletics news. He has had work published on Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, USA Today and more.