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Illinois Basketball To Host 4-star Mikey Lewis

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Mar 13, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) dunks the ball against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the second half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Basketball To Host 4-star Mikey Lewis

Illinois Basketball is in for a huge weekend. On the other side of Kirby, Illinois Football hosts the Penn State Nittany Lions. Though the football squad has mustered up some groans after two less than ideal performances, the buzz is created to host one of the premiere teams in the country. As a result, Illinois Basketball will try to use the environment to coerce a big time recruit. 4 star combo-guard, Mikey Lewis will visit Champaign for an official. Lewis has shown he is one of the top scoring guards in the country

He is currently in the top 60 for 247sports in the class of 2024. Lewis would be an absolutely monster get to pair alongside Morez Johnson. Illinois has recruited big men well. Dain Dainja, Amani Hansberry and Morez Johnson all look like top of the line big ten players. Lewis would be a welcome addition after Terrence Shannon Jr, Justin Harmon and Marcus Domask move on.

The Competition

Lewis seems to be focusing on three schools. Illinois, LSU and Ole Miss. Chester Frazier has led the charge for the combo guard, and have Illinois in well. Per our sources, LSU seemed to lead for Mikey Lewis. However, things have become foggy. Cody Toppert was the lead recruiter on LSU’s staff for Lewis. Most recently, Toppert left to become the coach of the G-League affiliate for the Washington Wizards, which leaves question about the Tigers’ position for Mikey Lewis.

Ole Miss is another school that has hopped in. Chris Beard is a respected basketball coach, despite the off the court issues, and is respected as a winning coach when it comes to guards.

The Bottom line

This is a high-major battle. Ultimately, each school has solid sells for Lewis and this should be close. The fact that Lewis is from the west coast, and the Big Ten recently added UCLA and USC to its conference, may be of appeal to the Lewis camp.

Regardless, Illinois will have to knock this visit out of the park to get an absolutely necessary piece to their puzzle.

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Key Storylines from Illinois Basketball’s Conference Schedule

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Key Storylines from Illinois Basketball's Conference Schedule

Key Storylines from Illinois Basketball’s Conference Schedule

Illinois Basketball is just around the corner! As Football season has finished the first quarter of their season, Illinois Basketball is about a month away from their exhibition game against Ottawa. Illinois Football has struggled to start their season, despite playing a rather difficult schedule. Fans have grown uneasy and are undoubtedly looking to the basketball team to ease their qualms. Brad Underwood and his crew have a similar situation to the football team. They return their key stars, however will be relying on some very young and inexperienced players to take some big time steps. There is a lot to ask out of transfers such as Quincy Guerrier, Marcus Domask and Justin Harmon so that a successful season can happen.

Today, the Big Ten schedule was released.

Illinois starts and ends the conference schedule with a bang.

Illinois will start Big Ten play on December 2nd on the road against Rutgers. Though Illinois has largely dominated Rutgers in Champaign and in the Big Ten Tournament in 2021, Steve Pikiell has inversely dominated Illinois at Jersey Mike Center. In fact, Brad Underwood has only won once in four games in Piscataway. Rutgers is a tough place for anyone to play in, Illinois will have to be on their best to start their conference play with a win. After that, they play a month of non-conference games. Only to play Northwestern at home, Purdue (away), Michigan State (home) and Maryland (home). After that, they travel to Ann Arbor to play Michigan.

Though Michigan is no slouch, that is probably their easiest game until January 30th at Ohio State. Despite that, we all saw how the Illini fared this year in Columbus. Their last 3 games of the season are at Wisconsin, home against Purdue and at Iowa.  Talk about a house of horrors to end. A game to end the season at Iowa has always been a testy battle in Champaign. However, on the road… look out.

Illinois did not get lucky with their double plays

The schedule looks daunting. You would hope that Illinois drew Nebraska, Penn State, Minnesota or even Iowa as the teams they hoped to play twice. However, the double plays for Illinois are Rutgers, Purdue, MSU, Northwestern, and Maryland. All of these teams project to be upper-half teams. Particularly, MSU and Purdue look to be the top dawgs this year. To play them twice? I’d say that is bad luck.

Overall, Illinois basketball’s consistency has to improve. They started last year 0-3, and had to claw their way back. They need to find the “roadkills” that made Ayo Dosunmu so famous. Last year, they were never able to win back-to-back games and consistently lost on the road. If they can steal a game against their double plays on the road, they will hopefully have a great season. Their non-con schedule is no joke either. Good luck, Brad.

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Illinois Basketball to Host West Coast Combo Guard Jase Butler

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Illinois Basketball to Host West Coast Combo Guard Jase Butler

Illinois Basketball to Host West Coast Combo Guard Jase Butler

Jase Butler is a 6 foot 4 guard out of California. Recently, he dropped a top 6 including Illinois, Colorado State, Loyola Marymount, New Mexico, San Francisco, and UC-Santa Barbara. Butler may not be the highest ranked prospect, but Illinois Basketball is making him a priority. Butler is currently scheduled to visit Illinois this coming weekend on September 22nd. This will include a trip to Memorial Stadium for the Illinois Football game vs Florida Atlantic.

Butler’s visit marks the second combo guard from California that Illinois Basketball has hosted. 4 star guard, Mikey Lewis just completed his visit over the weekend. Lewis is a big time recruit; they are currently trying to catch up to the LSU tigers. The Tigers seem to have a lead on Mikey Lewis per our sources. There is a slight opening for Illinois, however, due to LSU assistant, Cody Toppert leaving for the G-league. Regardless, Illinois has learned the hard way multiple times that they need to have multiple options. Jase Butler would be a solid add as well.

The Player:

Butler is not the flashiest player, but he seems to make strong decisions in the Pick and Roll. Last year, Illinois learned that they do not have enough players who can do that well. With a rim running big like Morez Johnson coming in, Illinois needs to continue to add those kind of players. Butler would fill that role perfectly. He is not a great shooter, however has a tough body to him that can fit well in the Big Ten. If they can push a commitment from Butler during his visit, I am sure they are in a good spot to land the 6 foot 4 playmaker.

The Rest of the 2024 class:

Illinois Basketball currently has two commits to their class of 2024. Morez Johnson is the crown jewel thus far. The Top 50 big man is the best player in the state of Illinois and was absolutely dominant in the summer EYBL. Johnson slides in perfectly as Coleman Hawkins and Quincy Guerrier moves on after this season. His skillset and athleticism will be a strong foundational piece moving forward. Jason Jakstys is another big man, however has a different skillet. Jakstys is a project prospect that will require time to strengthen his body. However, he has shown solid athleticism and perimeter skills that mirrors Coleman Hawkins.

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Don Sunderlage led Illinois basketball to two Final Fours

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Don Sunderlage
There wasn't much time for rest Monday as the Milwaukee Hawks professional basketball team started practice, but Coach Fuzzy Levane got together with several newcomers during a brief time out. Left to right are Bill Tosheff, Don Sunderlage, Bob Houbregs, Levane and Grant Wittberger. Tosheff formerly played with the Indianapolis Olympians, Sunderlage with Illinois, Houbregs with the University of Washington and Wittberger with Marquette and the Allen-Bradley's. The club is working out at the Arena. 1953 Press Photo Milwaukee Hawks Professional Basketball Team Starts Practice

-This installment features legendary Illinois Football player Don Sunderlage. In September, he and 11 other athletes will be inducted into the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame.

Sunderlage was a stand-out high school player.

Don Sunderlage, a player from yesteryear, was one of Illinois’ first great basketball players. Greatness came easy to Sunderlage, however. While at Elgin High School, Sunderlage set the record for points (359) and lost only six games in his two years playing varsity. He was selected to play in the North-South All-Star game, leading the North in scoring. After a decorated high school career, Sunderlage left for Champaign.

He led Illinois to two Final Four Appearances.

Unlike in today’s game, Sunderlage was not eligible to play varsity until he was a sophomore. Sunderlage started at point guard as a sophomore, leading the Illini to a 21-4 record and a berth in the Final Four (only eight teams played in the tournament then). After a lackluster 1949-50 season, the Illini returned to the Final Four in 1951. Illinois won 13 games for the first time since 1942. Sunderlage won several accolades in 1951

Don Sunderlage won the Chicago Tribune Silver Basketball in 1951 as the Big Ten Conference MVP. In addition to those awards, Sunderlage was also a third-team All-American (UPI), Helms and Sporting News Second-Team All-American, a Converse Third-Team All-American, and an Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention. Sunderlage is also the first Illinois basketball player to score more than 400 points in a season.

He was a first-round NBA draft pick by the Milwaukee Hawks in 1951, though he never played for them. Milwaukee traded Sunderlage for Mark Workman before the season began. Before he could start his NBA career, Sunderlage spent a required year in the military. From 1953-55, he played in the NBA as a member of the Milwaukee Hawks and Minneapolis Lakers, representing the Hawks at the 1954 NBA All-Star Game. Sunderlage and his wife, Janice, died in a tragic car accident in 1961 at 31.

The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics named 12 new members to the UI Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2023, including athletes and coaches from nine teams. This is the seventh Hall of Fame class. It includes two Olympic medalists, members of their sport’s national hall of fame, national champions, high professional draft picks, a Super Bowl champion, and a national record holder for more than 70 years. 

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