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).

UI MBB practice Underwood

Illinois men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood addresses his team during a practice at the Ubben Basketball Complex in Champaign on Oct. 28. The Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll, unveiled on Monday, has the Illini ranked eighth in the country ahead of the 2020-21 season, which is set to start later this month.

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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 168: The countdown begins

A clear sign you might be more than ready for college basketball season? You spent a not insignificant amount of time watching — and rewatching — the 40-second video Illinois tweeted this week.

The good news for those more basketball inclined? The season is literally right around the corner. Practice at the end of this month. Exhibitions in October. Then November through April(?) for the season itself.

But about that video. Here's a few things you might have noticed ...

— Da'Monte Williams, with his 7-foot wingspan, is still a problem defensively (even for his teammates in practice).

— The rims at Ubben Basketball Complex have yet to yield to the overwhelming force of a Kofi Cockburn dunk (or three), but it's probably a close thing.

— Speaking of dunks ... several Illini can play above the rim. Remember when nobody on this team dunked?

— Coleman Hawkins has a smooth looking fadeaway jumper from the mid-post.

— Andre Curbelo getting to the basket whenever he wants and finishing with scoop layups? Still a thing.

— Alfonso Plummer has a super quick trigger pull from three-point range. 

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

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