Coach: John Groce (1st season at Illinois) Overall 85-56, 4 years
2011-12: Record 17-15 overall, 6-12 in Big 10 (Tie 9th)
Starters Returning (3) D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul, Tracy Adams
Preseason Tournament: Maui Invitational
Top Non-Conference Games: vs. Georgia Tech, at Gonzaga, vs. Missouri, vs. Auburn
Transfer Out: Crandall Head (SMU)
Transfer In : Sam McLaurin (Costal Carolina- eligible immediately), Rayvonte Ross (Drake)
Early Departure: Meyers Leonard
Out is Bruce Weber, he brought tons of talent into Illinois but I guess he couldn’t coach them up. In comes John Groce, whose Ohio team almost upset North Carolina in the tournament last year. The goods new for Groce the Fighting Illini return 4 of their top 6 scorers from last season but lose their best player in Meyers Leonard. The question will be man Groce get more out of this team than Weber could?
Leading this team will be senior guards Brandon Paul (14.7 ppg) and D.J. Richardson (11.6 ppg). Both players have played since they were freshman at have showed signs of stardom but they are also inconsistent. Last year in a game against Ohio State Paul scored 43 points. Paul is the best all-around player in was 2nd on the team in rebounding and block shots and led them in steals and assists. Richardson will be Illinois best three point shooter. Running the point guard duties will be Tracy Abrams(4.3 ppg). He struggled at times last year but he finished the year strong as a freshman. The top option off the bench will be Joseph Bertrand(6.5 pppg). He even started some games last season. Also providing depth here will be Myke Henry(3.2 ppg) and freshman Devin Langford.
The questions marks for this team lie in the frontcourt. As the likely starters were just role players last season. Power Forward Tyler Griffey( 4.9 ppg) has the offensive skills but he needs to put them all together. Look for Nnanna Eguw (1.9 ppg) to start at center. He full of potential but he needs to put it all together. Coastal Carolina transfer Sam McLaurin will likely be the option off the bench. He averaged 10 ppg at CC last season. Also providing depth are sophomores Mike Shaw (.9 ppg) and Ibby Djimde (.3 ppg). Like many other players on this team Shaw needs to play up to his potential.