College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

alan griffin

Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette Illinois men's basketball player Alan Griffin in the weight room at Ubben in Champaign on Thursday, June 27, 2019.

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Some days you make it through your work to do list and (almost) forget about one thing. Today was that day. As I was wrapping up the Scott & Scott addition of Sports Talk, I came to the realization of, "Oh yeah, it's Wednesday. You probably should have already finished your chat."

So it's a little later than my normal afternoon missive, but I ultimately didn't forget about the chat in its entirety. Just a couple questions this week. As always, you can reach me via Twitter (@srrichey), email (srichey@news-gazette.com) or our submission form with all of your queries.

Hey Scott, I know you have addressed this, BUT Andres and Kofi missing the Italy trip should NOT have happened. The U of I is reportedly home of some of the brightest minds in the world and yet no one expected passport problems from the guys from outside the U.S.

Even a corn cob like me would expect red tape. And while I'm ranting, you touched on the Kouma situation. It does not surprise me the NCAA "clearing house" cannot make a decision. He has the grades/transcripts/classes or he doesn't. On a player note, do you think Alan Griffin and Tevian Jones get some serious minutes this season? — Sam B.

See, this space can be used for readers to get something off their chests. Feel free to rant a little ... as long as you also send in a question. Sam had some fair points and also a good question. 

So here's my answer. Alan Griffin and Tevian Jones should get serious minutes this season. Illinois has an opening on the wing given Aaron Jordan's graduation. He played 26.9 minutes per game last season. Those minutes need to be filled. 

If you're a podcast listener, you've heard my stance on Jones. I think he has perhaps the highest ceiling on the team given his length, athleticism and offensive skill set. What puts him behind Griffin right now is the fact Griffin has shown a little ability to defend and rebound in addition to making some hustle plays. That Griffin had a 30-point game in Italy where he hit 5 of 5 three-pointers is a good sign, too. He needs to shoot better than the 30 percent he did as a true freshman.

Both guys have real potential and can help Illinois in 2019-20 if they play up to (or exceed) it. They just have to do that on the court in a consistent manner.

Hi Scott, I recall last year the basketball team decided to move forward with interim uniforms in anticipation of new unis this year. Are we expecting to see something fresh for the season? I’d be fine if we went Flying Illini classics all year long. — Scott M.

Two reasons to like this question. One, it's about uniforms, which is sort of my jam. Two, it's from another Scott. What I was told leading up to the 2018-19 season is what you asked about — an interim look for last season with something new on the horizon. Haven't heard much on the uniform front since. Perhaps getting another rebrand from Nike is a longer process. I'll ask around for you. 

Last year's change was good. Getting rid of the awful zig zag pattern — something I'm not sure anybody actually liked — was the right move. It was a more classic look, and given what I understand about Brad Underwood's sensibilities that's probably the approach for any new jersey. That said, I'm right on board with you if the 2019-20 is mostly Flyin' Illini throwbacks. The white and orange looks are good, and I wouldn't be upset with a blue option to go with them.

Bruna Vrankovic is listed as a redshirt freshman on the roster. She was not announced as a part of the Illini team until late spring this year. I know she was attending classes here and around the team last year, but if she was not officially a part of the team how was it a redshirt year?  Who paid for her schooling last year? Did she practice with the team? — Roberta H.

A volleyball question to end things, which is great. If you're a fan of Chris Tamas' team, feel free to send questions for the chat, too. I'm diving back into that beat this month. 

I think I have the right answer for your question about Bruna Vrankovic being a redshirt freshman. Even though she didn't play last season, she was still on campus as a student so her "play four seasons in five years" clock started. She practiced with the team a little last fall until she was no longer able as her eligibility status was ruled on by the NCAA. 

I'm not sure of her scholarship situation last season (i.e. who paid for her freshman year at Illinois). By my count, Illinois had one of its allotted 12 to spare. It's something I can look into. Be on the lookout in the coming month(s) for a more thorough story on Vrankovic now that she's officially an Illini. Worth noting she was a limited participant in the first practice of the year this past Saturday. Chris Tamas said she was working back to be on the court fully, indicating a minor injury.

Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).