Connect with us


What Should Illinois Basketball do with its Final Scholarship?



Illinois Basketball Receives Crystal Ball For Recent Visitor
Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood looks down court during the NCAA men s basketball game against the Purdue Boilermakers, Sunday, March 5, 2023, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. Purillini030523 Am6869

What Should Illinois Basketball do with its Final Scholarship?

After a long and winding off-season, Illinois Basketball seems to have its roster finalized. Quincy Guerrier has arrived on campus after taking summer courses elsewhere. Justin Harmon is the only missing piece, however he did tweet that he sees “orange and blue” today. In all, Illinois Basketball lost Jayden Epps, RJ Melendez, Brandon Lieb and Matthew Mayer, and replaced that with Quincy Guerrier, Marcus Domask, Justin Harmon, Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn and Amani Hansberry. That seems like a minor win.

The questions still remain at the point guard position. After a painstakingly long saga for RayJ Dennis, Illinois seemed to have missed on the opportunity to upgrade at its biggest need. With one scholarship open, fans are hoping that Brad Underwood has one final trick up his sleeve. However, should he?

To Fill?

RayJ Dennis was a huge miss in a lot of ways. Obviously losing on one of the top guards in the portal hurt, however there was a ton of time invested. Illinois unfortunately missed out on other windows while hoping Dennis would climb aboard. At this point, there are a few players becoming available. Whether it is the West Virginia issues or seeking a more lucrative NIL, there are some high major players available. Paul Mulcahy still lingers, however his NIL asking may be too high for Illinois to match. Two point guards have recently entered the portal that may be of interest. Alabama’s Jahvon Quinerly and former Iowa/West Virginia guard, Joe Toussaint.

Both would fill the need as an experienced, capable ball-handler and distributor. However, both do not necessarily move the needle that much further. Does the addition of Quinerly or Toussaint really make fans believe that this team goes from middle of the pack to the elite team that RayJ Dennis would have made? My answer is: No. This is why Illinois should indefinitely call it quits on the 2023 transfer portal and leave the scholarship open

To leave it open?

The two scenarios are that Illinois adds a Joe Toussaint. Does this really make the point guard position that much better than Ty Rodgers, Sencire Harris and Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn running it by committee? Toussaint is a solid player, however adding him at the beginning of July, when these players have already started to practice does more harm for the future than benefit. Remember the whole Brandin Podziemski debate? Let’s say Toussaints comes. This inevitably forces one or two of the aforementioned young guys to enter the transfer portal.

Though I would never pass on a solid player to make one or two current players happy, I do think that a one year clog like Toussaint or Quinerly hurts Illinois in the long run. Let the young guys that you recruited work their tails off at running the lead guard position. Will all three have growing pains? Absolutely. However, if anything, we learned that Ty Rodgers and Sencire Harris are guys that are willing to go through the developmental process. Otherwise, both would have left for greener pastors like some of their classmates.

This is not the perfect scenario by any means. In fact, Illinois still seems to be a lead guard away from being that elite team everyone wants. However, the future is here. It is time to invest in that.

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.