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Who is the X-factor for Illinois Basketball?



Who is the X-factor for Illinois Basketball?

Who is the X-factor for Illinois Basketball?

Illinois Basketball has an interesting year ahead. After the ending of the 2022-23 season and the way the transfer portal saga played out, fans are hungry for success. The team is filled with intriguing pieces, however has a rather similar build to last year. That has been somewhat evident throughout the two exhibition games. Fouling, turnovers and poor 3pt/free throw shooting will be an Achilles heel of this team. However, they have some athletic players who thrive in the open-court. From Terrence Shannon Jr to Sencire Harris and Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn, Illinois Basketball will certainly be a team that can go on runs, but can struggle in the half-court.

There are two players that Illinois Basketball needs to be consistently good if they are to reach their full potential and avoid a season like the prior one.

Luke Goode

Luke Goode is the best pure shooter on this team. On a team that shot 3-25 in their first exhibition and 6-28 in the second one, this is a team that will struggle with outside shots. Dain Dainja, Terrence Shannon Jr and Ty Rodgers are all key pieces that thrive in the paint. For those three to get the space to attack driving lanes, Luke Goode needs to provide floor spacing. Marcus Domask is arguably just as good a shooter, however Goode is in his third year with the program. He should be used to playing in the Big Ten and used to playing at Illinois.

Goode has shot 24/62 from 3pt land during his time at Illinois. He will certainly have as many attempts this season, and he has to shoot close to 40% for Illinois to reach their potential.

Coleman Hawkins

Coleman Hawkins has been a polarizing figure while at Illinois. Hawkins cares a lot about success, and he has a skillset that is perfect for the next level. Fans have grown to love his passion and honesty with the media. Coleman’s biggest hurdle during his three years has been consistency. He’s the kind of player that will put up a triple double against Syracuse, and then have 6 turnovers and shoot 0-6 from the 3 against Missouri. Coleman has to show that he’s decisive and confident in his scoring skills. I think a big reason that he struggles with this is that he is sometimes relied to initiate offense.

This is why RayJ Dennis was such a huge miss. Shannon Jr and Hawkins would not have to create offense as much, which ultimately would have benefitted their games. Hawkins has to be more consistent and shoot the ball better. During his three years at Illinois, he has never shot better than 30% from the 3pt line. If he can improve this number and his 60% free throw percentage, Illinois will have a better chance at being elite.

The Vets

Coleman Hawkins and Luke Goode are the elder statesmen of the team. Not only are they upper classmen, they have been at Illinois under Coach Underwood for multiple years. Both need to have big years if Illinois expects to be back at the top.


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.