Breaking down the men's basketball roster

Breaking down the men's basketball roster

The spring signing period ended on Wednesday, with Illinois officially having 10 players on scholarship right now as commit Bernard Kouma remains unsigned. Beat writer SCOTT RICHEY looks at the roster breakdown at the moment for the 2019-2020 Illini, picks his starting five if the season started today and more:

THE STARTERS
Ayo Dosunmu

So., Guard
His role in 2019-2020 is ... pretty straightforward. Lead Illinois back to the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 scoring option.
He needs to improve ... offensive efficiency. Dosunmu will get plenty of touches. Finishing them — at the rim, beyond the arc and at the line — is important.

Trent Frazier
Jr., Guard
His role in 2019-2020 is ... continuing to find the proper balance between running the offense and taking advantage of his own scoring opportunities.
He needs to improve ... the other parts of his game that aren’t three-point shooting after a significant jump there from his freshman to sophomore year.

Tevian Jones
So., Guard
His role in 2019-2020 is ... bound to be bigger than a year ago. It has to be for Illinois to take necessary step toward getting back to the NCAA tourney.
He needs to improve ... all facets of his game. More playing time should yield more production, but consistency (and better defense) is key.

Giorgi Bezhanishvili
So., Forward
His role in 2019-2020 is ... similar to the one he filled as a freshman — emotional leader that can be a viable No. 1 scoring option if needed.
He needs to improve ... his three-point shooting after connecting at just a 16.7 percent clip last season. The Illini have to be able to space the floor.

Kofi Cockburn
Fr., Center
His role in 2019-2020 is ... provide a physical presence that generates scoring at one end and discourages opposing guards from running a layup line offense.
He needs to improve ... conditioning. Having a unique piece like the Jamaican 7-footer isn’t worth much if he can’t stay on the court long enough.
 

THE RESERVES
Andres Feliz
Sr., Guard
His role in 2019-2020 is ... multi-faceted as the first guard off the bench that runs the second unit and hounds opposing guards on the defensive end.
He needs to improve ... his three-point shooting. Being able to knock down open shots will help when he’s playing alongside Dosunmu and Frazier.

Da’Monte Williams
Jr., Guard
His role in 2019-2020 is ... a continuation of what he’s accomplished the past two seasons doing the dirty work and making the hustle plays.
He needs to improve ... as a scorer. Williams brings value in doing the little things, but he hasn’t been much of a weapon on the offensive end.

Kipper Nichols
Sr., Forward
His role in 2019-2020 is ... unless the roster situation changes, being that dynamic 3/4 that can guard the type of players that have constantly hurt the Illini.
He needs to improve ... his consistency. Nichols at his best can cause opposing teams fits — like the 2018 Big Ten tourney — but he’s not at his best enough.

Alan Griffin
So., Guard
His role in 2019-2020 is ... as a shooter off the bench. The ability is there, and it’s imperative the Illini get more shooters on the floor to open up the offense.
He needs to improve ... his overall game — like Jones — to make a similar sophomore leap. That includes three-point shooting and ball security.

Samba Kane
So., C
His role in 2019-2020 is ... undefined given his limitations last season but could be needed as a backup to Bezhanishvili and Cockburn.
He needs to improve ... his comfort level in the system. That alone should help the athletic 7-footer start to take better advantage of his physical gifts.
 

THE REST OF THE TEAM
Tyler Underwood

Gr., Guard
His role in 2019-20 is ... utilizing his knowledge and comfort in his dad's system as a steadying presence when needed.

Samson Oladimeji
Sr., Guard
His role in 2019-20 is ... pushing the other guards in practice and providing highlight reel worthy dunks during warmups.

Zach Griffith
Jr., Forward
His role in 2019-20 is ... to make life difficult for the other Illinois frontcourt players in practice, particularly by using his ability to stretch the floor.

Bernard Kouma
Fr., Forward
His role in 2019-20 is ... to provide depth behind Bezhanishvili and Cockburn in the post (assuming he does in fact sign with the Illini).

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