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.
Aaron Jordan did a little bit of everything for Illinois last season. The 6-foot-5 senior guard was fifth on the team in scoring, second in rebounding, fourth in assists and fifth in steals. He was also the Illini’s most efficient three-point shooter, and, if you take into account Tevian Jones only shot 11 free throws, the most consistent at that line, too.
Mostly, Jordan provided a veteran presence for a young team. An example of what to do on and off the court. He had a lasting impact on his teammates.
“When he got his time, he was successful because he always put in work,” now junior guard Trent Frazier said of his former teammate. “I always paid attention to AJ and little things. He was a hard worker, great locker room guy and very vocal. He spoke the truth. For sure AJ’s going to be missed. His presence on the team and what he brought ot the team was incredible.”
Turns out another senior on this year’s team has taken up some of that leadership slack now that Jordan has moved on from the basketball court (although he’s still at Illinois as a marketing coordinator in the athletic department.)
“We’ve got Kipper,” Frazier said of redshirt senior forward Kipper Nichols. “He’s fulfilled that role already. He comes to practice every day ready to work. He’s getting on guys, talking like a veteran should. He’s one of those guys that took a lot of steps this summer, and I’m very excited for him.”