Next for Illini: Offseason additions

Next for Illini: Offseason additions

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois coaches are getting a jumpstart on what will be another important offseason.

The Illini not only have to hold on to the guys already on their roster — never a guarantee in the transfer era — and then add some more pieces.

The first opportunity to do the latter starts April 17 with the spring signing period. That's when Illinois can sign four-star centers Kofi Cockburn and Antwan January, who committed in January and November, respectively.

That still leaves one open scholarship that will go to a wing to be determined.

The Illini laid a foundation with its young players in the 2018-19 season.

Their three leading scorers were two freshmen (Ayo Dosunmu and Giorgi Bezhanishvili) with a sophomore (Trent Frazier) in between. Stacking more talent on top of that foundation is the whole idea behind a rebuild.

Every avenue will be explored to do just that. It could be another high school senior in the 2019 class. Or maybe Illinois goes the junior college route again like it did to land Andres Feliz. Graduate transfers are always an option, too.

Underwood has to exploit them all if Illinois is going to pull itself out of the bottom of the Big Ten and back to the NCAA tournament. It's a fairly steep hill to climb after a 12-21 finish to this just completed season.