College/Prep Sports Reporter

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

Brandin Podziemski

Brandin Podziemski (0) during the UI basketball media day at the State Farm Center in Champaign on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.

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Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:

Episode 181: Back in action

Brad Underwood clamped down on his rotation in last week's win against Maryland. Trent Frazier played all 40 minutes. Da'Monte Williams played 37, and Alfonso Plummer was on the court for 35. Leaning on those three guards meant a DNP for Brandin Podziemski.

The freshman guard had emerged in the past few games as a rotation option. The first freshman off the bench, in fact, which was a role Luke Goode held up until that point. The Muskego, Wis., native earned it. He played a season-high 12 minutes in Illinois’ win against St. Francis (Pa.) and was the first freshman off the bench — and played the most of that group — in the win against Missouri before getting decent run at Minnesota, too.

Continued improvement from Podziemski gives Underwood the ability, if necessary, to manage minutes for the likes of Frazier, Williams and Plummer. 

“Podz has earned that right and been great,” Underwood said. “He’s played great in practice and been a guy that I’ve built confidence with. I’m learning to trust what he’s doing on the floor at both ends — more so on the defensive end. We all know he can make shots. It’s been something we’ve been looking for is a guy that can give us minutes. He can play both (guard) spots.”

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

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