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Illinois Basketball: Who is First Off The Bench?



Illini Basketball Podcast Episode 174: Game #1 Preview vs Eastern Illinois

Illinois Basketball: Who is First Off The Bench?

Illinois Basketball will open its season on Monday night vs the Eastern Illinois Panthers. The official Illinois Basketball account just posted a hype video for the ages and fans are ready for another season. Vibes are high in Champaign as the Illinois Football team gave everyone a reason for joy and jubilation. On the latest episode of the Illini Basketball Podcast, the fellas discussed a very interesting topic. Who is first off the bench for Illinois Basketball? I think the answer is probably Dain Dainja, however, the question is very interesting from a guard’s point of view.

Illinois has some talented guards. Though they do not have a pure point guard, they do have quite a bit of a logjam. Brad Underwood can go two ways.

Sencire Harris?

Sencire Harris found a way to capture the hearts of all Illinois fans. After watching Matthew Mayer, RJ Melendez and more mope around the court with poor body language throughout the season, Sencire Harris seemed like the only Illini who consistently played hard. He coined a similar schtick to Illinois Football star, Devon Witherspoon. Harris and (freshman year) Witherspoon are young, and feisty, but undersized. However, both always played hard and always put their emotions on their sleeves.

Despite this, I think Sencire Harris may be the odd man out. He does a lot of the exact same things that Ty Rodgers does, but not as well. Additionally, he has the same exact weaknesses. Harris struggles to shoot, create from the perimeter and is not a true on-ball guard. Having him and Ty on the floor at the same time would likely not workout.

Justin Harmon?

The Kansas exhibition showed that Justin Harmon may have a bigger role than most expected. Many thought that Sencire Harris or Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn would be the key cogs at guard off the bench. Harris and Gibbs-Lawhorn are both athletic and have a unique vertical explosion. However, Justin Harmon is a steady, experienced fifth year guy that is simply more solid than the two youngsters. His defense is serviceable and he is a more controlled finisher than Harris and DGL at this time.

Harmon’s cut to the basket in clutch time highlighted his veteran savvy, and I think he currently owns the edge over Sencire Harris.





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Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is a Resident Physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Northwestern Medicine and has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS sports and more.