Predicting the Illini starting five

Predicting the Illini starting five

Trent Frazier, 6-1, 170, So.

Frazier ended his first season as Illinois' second-leading scorer and one of the top freshmen in the Big Ten while showing an ability to take over games at the offensive end. A deeper backcourt should actually help by providing more opportunities on and off the ball for the Florida native.

Ayo Dosunmu, 6-5, 185, Fr.

No Illini enters the season with as much hype as Dosunmu. That's what happens when a five-star recruit out of Chicago chooses to stay home to, as he put it, "build my legacy." Expectations could run high for the freshman guard, but his abilities as a lockdown defender and scorer could help the Illini reach a new level.

Aaron Jordan, 6-5, 210, Sr.

Jordan could find himself pushed by Da'Monte Williams or freshmen Tevian Jones and Alan Griffin, but a steady presence from the only four-year senior on the team could prove beneficial for the Illini. Jordan elevated his game last season before a dip in Big Ten play. Illinois will need him to be steadier this season.

Kipper Nichols, 6-6, 225, R-Jr.

Expecting a regular repeat of Nichols' final game last season — 31 points in the Big Ten tournament against Iowa — isn't realistic. But Illinois will need him to produce closer to that than the three games that preceded it (a combined 15 points). A locked-in Nichols could turn into a weapon for the Illini.

Giorgi Bezhanishvili, 6-9, 230, Fr.

Adonis De La Rosa won't be back from offseason knee surgery. Samba Kane probably won't be ready after missing the entirety of the summer workouts. So that leaves Bezhanishvili to hold down the post early in the season for the Illini. Still, a good passing big man with three-point stroke fits in Brad Underwood's offense.