Our preseason trip around the Big Ten returns to Champaign — well, Decatur — as the Herald & Review’s beat writer Joey Wagner shares his thoughts on Illinois:
What will be key in Illinois living up to such lofty expectations this season?
Health both in terms of injury and COVID. Illinois has the depth to withstand some hiccups but a completely healthy team has the talent to be the best in the Big Ten. Of course, it will be interesting to see how the newcomers fit in, but I have to think they’re the icing on the cake.
How important is a bounceback season from Giorgi Bezhanishvili?
It’s pretty important. When he was a center as a freshman, we saw how good he can be. Maybe we’ll see him more at the 4 spot but having someone who can backup Kofi Cockburn is key. Brad Underwood could go small with Cockburn on the bench.
Which newcomer (sit-out transfer or freshmen) might have the biggest impact?
Adam Miller. He’s a bucket-getter waiting to happen, which was evident at Morgan Park. His shooting will help space the floor for everyone else, something Illinois didn’t much have last year. Physically, he looks every bit ready to hold up in the Big Ten.