Connect with us


Should Illinois Basketball Target Aziz Bandaogo?



Should Illinois Basketball Target Aziz Bandaogo?
Mar 28, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Utah Valley Wolverines center Aziz Bandaogo (55) dunks the ball against the UAB Blazers in the first half at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Basketball has shown interest in targeting Aziz Bandaogo.

The Transfer Portal grows every day. Recently, Illinois Basketball has reportedly shown interest in Utah Valley Center Aziz Bandaogo. Bandaogo is a 7 footer from Senegal who averaged 11.5 points  10.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks as a Red-shirt Sophomore. Ironically, Bandaogo started his career for former Illinois coach John Groce at Akron. He then played two seasons for Utah Valley alongside Justin Harmon.

According to The Portal Report, Bandaogo is receiving interest from Cal, Vanderbilt, Duke and Cincinnati.

The Fit with Illinois Basketball.

As it stands, Illinois only has Dain Dainja as its true front court player. Coleman Hawkins has placed his name into the NBA draft, however a decision looms on whether to return. If Hawkins does leave for the NBA Draft, Bandaogo would be a great piece to push Dainja for front court minutes. Rim protection is important in the Big Ten given that there are big players like Zach Edey, Cliff Omoruyi. Additionally, having someone waiting at the rim to punish physical guards like Jalen Pickett would be a welcome addition to Illinois.

If Coleman Hawkins returns, the fit for Bandaogo may not be there. Hawkins is likely to split his 30+ minutes per game at the power forward and center position. With Dainja and Quincy Guerrier rounding out the front court, Bandaogo may not find the floor much. Also, if Hawkins and Terrence Shannon Jr elect to return, Illinois would only have one scholarship spot open. With the Illini pursuing RayJ Dennis, that leaves Illinois without a scholarship.

All of this weighs on the NBA Draft decision.

This seems like an insurance policy in the case that Coleman Hawkins decides to stay in the NBA Draft. If Coleman Hawkins is gone, Illinois will need to beef up its frontcourt immediately. Bandaogo fits that bill perfectly. He would be an outstanding shot-blocker and rebounder to add to Ty Rodgers, Quincy Guerrier and Amani Hansberry. As expected for a top shot-blocker, however, Bandaogo will have plenty of options to choose from. Given that Utah Valley’s former coach, Mark Madsen, has moved on to Cal, that spot has to be the favorite.

Though it is very unlikely that Dain Dainja and Bandaogo could play together, it would give Illinois some very interesting depth. Dainja has an offensive skillset that has yet to be fully unleashed. Bandaogo has an amazing 7 foot 3 wingspan that helped anchor the 29th ranked defense in the country. However, the point remains. Coleman Hawkins and Terrence Shannon Jr are the keys to these decisions.

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.