CHAMPAIGN — That one last open scholarship Illinois is holding onto heading into the 2019-20 season is an asset. It also gives Illini coach Brad Underwood some flexibility in rounding out his roster.
Underwood has some options. There's the (less likely) chance he uses it on another 2019 recruit. In the more possible realm, he could bank it, roll it over into next season with ability to mine the mid-year transfer market or use it on a Class of 2020 prospect.
Or there's a transfer. Illinois has been tied to Boston University grad transfer Tyler Scanlon, who has upcoming reported visits at Belmont and Wisconsin. The Badgers, of course, are in fairly desperate territory with five open scholarships.
The latest name to pop for Illinois, though, is Utah transfer Donnie Tillman. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward will make a visit to Champaign on Wednesday after visiting Rutgers this past weekend. The Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year in 2018-19, Tillman averaged 10.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists — while shooting 36 percent from three-point range — as a sophomore for the Utes.
Tillman would have to get a waiver to play immediately given he only just completed his second season at Utah. Otherwise, he'll sit one to play two, and that's not necessarily a terrible thing should he pick Illinois. Tillman would give the Illini a full complement of 13 scholarship players, but even if Underwood is a coach willing to employ a deep rotation it's highlly unlikely he'd go 13 deep.
Still, Tillman's another option for Illinois at a position of need. Incoming freshman Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk has the same measurables, but if last season proved anything for Illinois it's having more athletic power forwards wouldn't be a bad idea.