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Returnees for Illinois Basketball Will Play Significant Role



Ty Rodgers, one of the key returnees, for Illinois Basketball who will play a significant role
Feb 24, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Ty Rodgers (20) leads players to the court before the start of a game with the Iowa Hawkeyes at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Returnees for Illinois Basketball Will Play Significant Role

As it stands right now, Illinois Basketball will have 9 total newcomers to start the 2024-2025 season. Four players will be in their first-ever year of college basketball, while five players are coming from the transfer portal. There will be some speed bumps at the beginning of the year as the roster establishes roles and identity. Brad Underwood has shown that he is able to adapt his play style to his roster, however, this will certainly be a unique challenge. With this new challenge, the two returnees must be at the top of their game to make the transition easier. Both returnees are expected to play a significant role on the court and off of the court as the culture is re-established.

Dravyn Gibbs-Lawhorn

Dravyn Gibbs-Lawhorn stuck with Illinois basketball despite showing the ability to earn some more minutes elsewhere. Gibbs-Lawhorn showed plenty of flashes of athleticism and shot-making while also playing with that same intensity that led fans to fall in love with Sencire Harris. The sophomore combo guard will have to improve shot selection, however, he showed a lot of defensive potential towards the latter part of the year. Gibbs-Lawhorn will certainly be one of the first off the bench as he assumes the same role that Justin Harmon held.

With Luke Goode and Sencire Harris also gone, expect DGL to coin 15-20 minutes per game.

Ty Rodgers

One of the most underrated parts of this offseason was retaining Ty Rodgers. Despite the talent of the 9 newcomers, continuity and experience is very significant in college basketball. Rodgers will be in his third year at Illinois and he was a starter on a team that made the Elite Eight. Ty stuck with Illinois despite incoming additions to his position. However, the Illini do not have a piece like Ty Rodgers. They need his vocal leadership and that guy that does all of the “dirty work”.

Additionally, Rodgers is the one piece on this roster that can provide consistent rim pressure. When Terrence Shannon Jr was suspended, Ty increased his aggressiveness and was a key cog during that time. Ty will be surrounded by four strong perimeter shooters, which should only help his game.

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