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).

Giorgi Bezhanishvili
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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 120: Practice starts this week

I spoke earlier this month with Illinois junior forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili. We discussed his "taking it to the streets" workout style and the lessons he learned from what was an up and down sophomore season. Even after a second year in orange and blue that didn't live up to his debut, the 6-foot-9 Georgian is as confident in his game as ever. 

That's why Illini coach Brad Underwood is expecting a bounce back season from Bezhanishvili in 2020-21. 

"I've loved what I've seen. One, he's in unbelievable condition. I'd put him up against anybody in the country in terms of a guy who's worked as hard through COVID. He's physically in great shape. He's added weight.

"He looks like the Giorgi we saw as a freshman. That jump hook goes in every time he shoots it. He's confident. He's so versatile. We've seen a maturity happen with him in terms of some of the struggles last year. There comes growth after that. He's going to have a great year for us. I don't doubt that for a second."

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