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2017–18 Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball team

The 2017–18 Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball team represented the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in the 2017–18 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. Led by first-year head coach Brad Underwood, the Illini played their home games at State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois as members of the Big Ten Conference. They finished the season 14–18, 4–14 in Big Ten play to finish in a three-way tie for 11th place. As the No. 13 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, they lost in the first round to Iowa.[1]

2017–18 Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball
Illinois Fighting Illini logo.svg
ConferenceBig Ten Conference
2017–18 record14–18 (4–14 Big Ten)
Head coachBrad Underwood (1st season)
Assistant coaches
Home arenaState Farm Center
Seasons
2017–18 Big Ten Conference men's basketball standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   PCT     W   L   PCT
No. 5 Michigan State 16 2   .889     30 5   .857
No. 11 Purdue 15 3   .833     30 7   .811
No. 17 Ohio State 15 3   .833     25 9   .735
No. 7 Michigan 13 5   .722     33 8   .805
Nebraska 13 5   .722     22 11   .667
Penn State 9 9   .500     26 13   .667
Indiana 9 9   .500     16 15   .516
Maryland 8 10   .444     19 13   .594
Wisconsin 7 11   .389     15 18   .455
Northwestern 6 12   .333     15 17   .469
Minnesota 4 14   .222     15 17   .469
Illinois 4 14   .222     14 18   .438
Iowa 4 14   .222     14 19   .424
Rutgers 3 15   .167     15 19   .441
2018 Big Ten Tournament winner
Rankings from AP Poll

Previous seasonEdit

The Illini finished the 2016–17 season 20–15, 8–10 in Big Ten play to finish in ninth place. They lost in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament to Michigan. They received an invitation to the National Invitation Tournament where they defeated Valparaiso and Boise State before losing in the quarterfinals to UCF.

On March 11, 2017, Illinois fired head coach John Groce.[2][3] On March 18, the school hired Brad Underwood as the new head coach.[4]

OffseasonEdit

Coaching changesEdit

Following Brad Underwood's hiring as head coach, Jamall Walker was retained as an assistant.[5] Underwood hired controversial former South Florida head coach Orlando Antigua who was fired as head coach from South Florida due to an NCAA investigation into academic violations.[6] Underwood also hired Ron Coleman as an assistant and Stephen Gentry as assistant to the head coach.[7]

Player departuresEdit

Name Number Pos. Height Weight Year Hometown Notes
D. J. Williams 0 G 6'7" 210 Sophomore Chicago, Illinois Transfer to George Washington
Jaylon Tate 1 G 6'3" 170 Senior Chicago, Illinois Graduated and pro for Niagara River Lions
Jalen Coleman-Lands 5 G 6'3" 190 Sophomore Indianapolis, Indiana Transfer to DePaul
Tracy Abrams 13 G 6'2" 185 Graduate student Chicago, Illinois Graduated
Malcolm Hill 21 G 6'6" 225 Senior Fairview Heights, Illinois Graduated
Maverick Morgan 22 C 6'10" 245 Senior Springboro, Ohio Graduated and pro for GTK Gliwice
Mike Thorne Jr. 33 C 6'11" 280 Graduate student Fayetteville, North Carolina Graduated
Alex Austin 44 G 6'4" 190 Senior Chicago, Illinois Graduated

DecommitsEdit

On January 16, 2016, three-star shooting guard Javon Pickett of Belleville, Illinois verbally committed to attend Illinois in the fall of 2017.[8] After the firing of John Groce, Pickett asked for and received a release of his letter of intent to Illinois.[9] On November 17, 2016, five-star recruit Jeremiah Tilmon announced that he had signed his letter of intent with Illinois the previous day, after a week of press uncertainty.[10] However, after the coaching change at Illinois, Tilmon requested and received a release of his letter of intent with the school.[11]

Recruiting classEdit

During Illinois' final home game against Minnesota on February 28, 2016, Da'Monte Williams verbally committed to attend Illinois in the fall of 2017. Williams is the son of former Illinois guard Frank Williams who led the Fighting Illini to three straight NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2001.[12] On November 9, 2016 Trent Frazier signed a national letter of intent after considering Memphis, Georgia, Kansas State and Seton Hall, among others.[13] On April 27, 2017, four-star point guard Mark Smith, Mr. Illinois Basketball for 2017, announced he would attend Illinois.[14] On June 12, Slovenian bigman Matic Vesel committed to Illinois.[15]

US college sports recruiting information for high school athletes
Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight Commit date
Greg Eboigbodin
F
Benin City, NG University of Detroit Jesuit High School (MI) 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 220 lb (100 kg) Jun 6, 2017 
Recruiting star ratings: Scout:    Rivals:    247Sports:     ESPN: 
Trent Frazier
PG
West Palm Beach, FL Wellington (FL) 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 170 lb (77 kg) Aug 20, 2016 
Recruiting star ratings: Scout:    Rivals:    247Sports:     ESPN: 
Mark Smith
PG
Edwardsville, IL Edwardsville IL 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 225 lb (102 kg) Apr 27, 2017 
Recruiting star ratings: Scout:    Rivals:    247Sports:     ESPN: 
Matic Vesel
F
Ljubljana, RS Helios Suns Domžale 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 196 lb (89 kg) Jun 12, 2017 
Recruiting star ratings: ScoutN/A   RivalsN/A   247SportsN/A
Da'Monte Williams
CG
Peoria, IL Manual (IL) 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 185 lb (84 kg) Feb 29, 2016 
Recruiting star ratings: Scout:    Rivals:    247Sports:     ESPN: 
Overall recruiting rankings:
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.

Sources:

  • "Illinois 2017 Basketball Commitments". Rivals.com. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  • "2017 Illinois Basketball Commits". Scout.com. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  • "Scout.com Team Recruiting Rankings". Scout.com. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  • "2017 Team Ranking". Rivals.com. Retrieved 2016-01-19.

Incoming transfersEdit

US college sports recruiting information for high school athletes
Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight Commit date
Mark Alstork[16]
PG
Dayton, OH Thurgood Marshall (OH) / Ball State / Wright State 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 190 lb (86 kg) May 24, 2017 
Recruiting star ratings: ScoutN/A   RivalsN/A   247SportsN/A
Tyler Underwood[17]
PG
Nacogdoches, TX Nacogdoches (TX) / Oklahoma State 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 165 lb (75 kg) Mar 22, 2017 
Recruiting star ratings: ScoutN/A   RivalsN/A   247SportsN/A
Overall recruiting rankings:
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.

Sources:

2018–19 team recruitsEdit

US college sports recruiting information for high school athletes
Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight Commit date
Giorgi Bezhanishvili
PF
Vienna, Austria St. Patrick High School (NJ) 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 230 lb (100 kg) Mar 26, 2018 
Recruiting star ratings: ScoutN/A   Rivals:    247SportsN/A    ESPN:    ESPN grade: 74
Ayo Dosunmu
PG
Chicago, IL Morgan Park High School 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 172 lb (78 kg) Oct 19, 2017 
Recruiting star ratings: Scout:    Rivals:    247Sports:     ESPN:    ESPN grade: 89
Alan Griffin
SG
White Plains, NY Oak Park and River Forest HS/Archbishop Stepinac HS 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 200 lb (91 kg) Mar 2, 2018 
Recruiting star ratings: Scout:    Rivals:    247SportsN/A    ESPN:    ESPN grade: 75
Samba Kane
C
Dakar, Senegal Regis Jesuit High School/Florida Preparatory Academy 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 215 lb (98 kg) Mar 9, 2018 
Recruiting star ratings: Scout:    Rivals:    247Sports:     ESPN:    ESPN grade: 83
Overall recruiting rankings:   Rivals: 30  247Sports: 48
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.

Sources:

RosterEdit

2017–18 Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball team
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Height Weight Year Previous school Hometown
G 1 Trent Frazier 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 170 lb (77 kg) Fr Wellington High School (FL) West Palm Beach, Florida
F 2 Kipper Nichols 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 225 lb (102 kg) RS So St. Edward High School (OH) Cleveland, Ohio
G 3 Te'Jon Lucas 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 170 lb (77 kg) So Washington High School (WI) Milwaukee, Wisconsin
F 4 Matic Vessel 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 215 lb (98 kg) Fr Helios Suns Domžale Ljubljana, Slovenia
G 10 Drew Cayce (W) 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 165 lb (75 kg) RS So La Lumiere School/Creighton Libertyville, Illinois
F 11 Greg Eboigbodin 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 220 lb (100 kg) Fr University of Detroit Jesuit High School Benin City, Nigeria
F 12 Leron Black 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 220 lb (100 kg) RS Jr White Station High School Memphis, Tennessee
G 13 Mark Smith 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 225 lb (102 kg) Fr Edwardsville High School Edwardsville, Illinois
G 20 Da'Monte Williams 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 185 lb (84 kg) Fr Manual High School Peoria, Illinois
G 23 Aaron Jordan 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 190 lb (86 kg) Jr Plainfield East High School Plainfield, Illinois
G 24 Mark Alstork 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 190 lb (86 kg) GS Thurgood Marshall (OH) / Ball State / Wright State Dayton, Ohio
G 32 Tyler Underwood 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 160 lb (73 kg) RS So Nacogdoches High School / Oklahoma State Nacogdoches, Texas
G 35 Samson Oladimeji (W) 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 195 lb (88 kg) So William Fremd High School Rolling Meadows, Illinois
G 41 Clayton Jones (W) 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 170 lb (77 kg) RS Sr Champaign Central High School/Lake Land Champaign, Illinois
F 43 Michael Finke 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 230 lb (104 kg) RS Jr Centennial High School (IL) Champaign, Illinois
F 45 Cameron Liss (W) 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 220 lb (100 kg) RS Jr Glenbrook North High School Northbrook, Illinois
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • (W) Walk-on

Roster

Schedule and resultsEdit

The 2018 Big Ten Tournament will be held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.[18] Due to the Big East's use of that venue for their conference tournament, the Big Ten Tournament took place one week earlier than usual, ending the week before Selection Sunday.[19] As a result, the Big Ten regular season began in mid-December.[18]

Date
time, TV
Rank# Opponent# Result Record High points High rebounds High assists Site (attendance)
city, state
Exhibition
Nov 3, 2017*
7:00 pm
at Eastern Illinois
Disaster Relief Benefit
L 67–80 
 16  Nichols   9  Nichols   4  Nichols  Lantz Arena 
Charleston, IL
Regular season
Nov 10, 2017*
7:00 pm, BTN+
Southern
Global Sports Invitational
W 102–55  1–0
 17  2 tied   10  Alstork   4  2 tied  State Farm Center (14,637)
Champaign, IL
Nov 12, 2017*
5:00 pm, ESPNU
UT Martin
Global Sports Invitational
W 77–74  2–0
 23  Black   8  Black   3  3 tied  State Farm Center (11,882)
Champaign, IL
Nov 17, 2017*
7:30 pm, BTN
DePaul
Gavitt Tipoff Games
W 82–73  3–0
 21  Smith   9  Jordan   3  4 tied  State Farm Center (11,254)
Champaign, IL
Nov 19, 2017*
4:00 pm, BTN+
Marshall
Global Sports Invitational
W 91–74  4–0
 17  2 tied   11  Nichols   5  Lucas  State Farm Center (10,022)
Champaign, IL
Nov 22, 2017*
6:00 pm, BTN+
Augustana (IL) W 96–62  5–0
 20  Finke   10  Finke   6  Lucas  State Farm Center (10,404)
Champaign, IL
Nov 24, 2017*
6:30 pm, BTN+
North Carolina Central
Global Sports Invitational
W 86–73  6–0
 22  Finke   8  Black   6  Lucas  State Farm Center (11,004)
Champaign, IL
Nov 28, 2017*
8:00 pm, ESPN2
at Wake Forest
ACC–Big Ten Challenge
L 73–80  6–1
 20  Jordan   7  2 tied   4  Lucas  LJVM Coliseum (5,782)
Winston-Salem, NC
Dec 1, 2017
8:00 pm, BTN
at Northwestern L 68–72 OT 6–2
(0–1)
 15  Black   7  2 tied   3  Alstork  Allstate Arena (10,017)
Rosemont, IL
Dec 3, 2017
7:00 pm, BTN
Maryland L 91–92 OT 6–3
(0–2)
 18  Black   6  Nichols   7  Frazier  State Farm Center (12,735)
Champaign, IL
Dec 6, 2017*
7:00 pm, BTN
Austin Peay W 64–57  7–3
 17  Finke   8  Finke   4  Lucas  State Farm Center (12,352)
Champaign, IL
Dec. 9, 2017*
11:00 pm, ESPN2
vs. UNLV
UNLV on the Strip
L 82–89  7–4
 17  Smith   10  Nichols   4  Smith  MGM Grand Garden Arena (9,668)
Paradise, NV
Dec 13, 2017*
7:00 pm, BTN
Longwood W 92–45  8–4
 22  Jordan   8  Jordan   5  Lucas  State Farm Center (12,387)
Champaign, IL
Dec 16, 2017*
7:00 pm, BTN
vs. New Mexico State
Lou Henson Classic
L 69–74  8–5
 17  Black   9  Finke   4  Alstork  United Center (5,695)
Chicago, IL
Dec 23, 2017*
7:00 pm, ESPN2
vs. Missouri
Braggin' Rights
W 70–64  9–5
 22  Frazier   7  Black   2  2 tied  Scottrade Center (21,289)
St. Louis, MO
Dec 30, 2017*
3:00 pm, BTN+
Grand Canyon W 62–58  10–5
 20  Black   11  Black   3  Williams  State Farm Center (13,762)
Champaign, IL
Jan 3, 2018
8:00 pm, BTN
at Minnesota L 67–77  10–6
(0–3)
 14  Black   8  Williams   6  Frazier  Williams Arena (11,597)
Minneapolis, MN
Jan 6, 2018
11:00 pm, BTN
at Michigan L 69–79  10–7
(0–4)
 17  Nichols   7  Nichols   6  Lucas  Crisler Arena (11,888)
Ann Arbor, MI
Jan 11, 2018
7:00 pm, FS1
Iowa L 97–104 OT 10–8
(0–5)
 27  Frazier   5  Nichols   4  Jordan  State Farm Center (11,326)
Champaign, IL
Jan 15, 2018
8:00 pm, BTN
at Nebraska L 63–64  10–9
(0–6)
 19  Frazier   10  Finke   5  Frazier  Pinnacle Bank Arena (12,597)
Lincoln, NE
Jan 19, 2018
8:00 pm, FS1
at Wisconsin L 50–75  10–10
(0–7)
 16  Black   10  Alstork   5  Frazier  Kohl Center (17,287)
Madison, WI
Jan 22, 2018
8:00 pm, FS1
No. 6 Michigan State L 74–87  10–11
(0–8)
 27  Nichols   3  2 tied   4  Williams  State Farm Center (13,552)
Champaign, IL
Jan 24, 2018
8:00 pm, BTN
Indiana
Rivalry
W 73–71  11–11
(1–8)
 19  2 tied   6  Black   3  Frazier  State Farm Center (13,003)
Champaign, IL
Jan 30, 2018
6:00 pm, BTN
Rutgers W 91–60  12–11
(2–8)
 19  Nichols   6  Nichols   4  Frazier  State Farm Center (12,612)
Champaign, IL
Feb 4, 2018
11:00 pm, FS1
at No. 17 Ohio State L 67–75  12–12
(2–9)
 19  Alstork   4  Black   4  Frazier  Value City Arena (18,743)
Columbus, OH
Feb 8, 2018
8:00 pm, BTN
Wisconsin L 69–78  12–13
(2–10)
 32  Frazier   11  Black   4  Lucas  State Farm Center (13,062)
Champaign, IL
Feb 11, 2018
6:00 pm, BTN
Penn State L 52–74  12–14
(2–11)
 18  Black   6  3 tied   2  4 tied  State Farm Center (12,840)
Champaign, IL
Feb 14, 2018
7:30 pm, BTN
at Indiana
Rivalry
L 68–78  12–15
(2–12)
 20  Black   7  Black   5  Frazier  Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (17,222)
Bloomington, IN
Feb 18, 2018
2:30 pm, BTN
Nebraska W 72–66  13–15
(3–12)
 28  Black   7  3 tied   6  Lucas  State Farm Center (15,544)
Champaign, IL
Feb 20, 2018
6:00 pm, ESPN
at No. 2 Michigan State L 61–81  13–16
(3–13)
 20  Black   6  Nichols   5  Frazier  Breslin Center (14,797)
East Lansing, MI
Feb 22, 2018
6:00 pm, FS1
No. 9 Purdue L 86–93  13–17
(3–14)
 28  Black   6  Lucas   6  Frazier  State Farm Center (14,673)
Champaign, IL
Feb 25, 2018
2:00 pm, BTN
at Rutgers W 75–62  14–17
(4–14)
 19  Finke   8  Williams   4  Frazier  Louis Brown Athletic Center 
Piscataway, NJ
Big Ten Tournament
Feb 28, 2018
5:30 pm, BTN
(13) vs. (12) Iowa
First round
L 87–96  14–18
 Nichols  31   4  Finke   8  Lucas  Madison Square Garden 
New York City, NY
*Non-conference game. #Rankings from AP Poll. (#) Tournament seedings in parentheses.
All times are in Central Time.

Awards and honorsEdit

In-season awardsEdit

Trent FrazierEdit

  • Big Ten Freshman of the Week, December 26, 2017
  • Big Ten Freshman of the Week, February 12, 2018

Postseason awardsEdit

Trent FrazierEdit

  • All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (media)
  • All-Big Ten Freshmen Team

Leron BlackEdit

  • All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (coaches and media)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Illinois vs. Iowa - Game Recap - February 28, 2018 - ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
  2. ^ Ryan, Shannon. "Illinois fires men's basketball coach John Groce after five seasons". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2017-03-13.
  3. ^ "Illinois fires John Groce after 37–53 Big Ten mark in five seasons". CBSSports.com. Retrieved 2017-03-13.
  4. ^ Smith, Erick (March 18, 2017). "Illinois hires Oklahoma State's Brad Underwood as new coach". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  5. ^ "Report: Illinois basketball, assistant Jamall Walker reach deal to keep Walker on staff under new coach Brad Underwood". Land of 10. 2017-03-23. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  6. ^ Ryan, Shannon. "Illinois adds former Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua to coaching staff". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  7. ^ "Illinois basketball coach Brad Underwood adds 2 to staff, names Ronald 'Chin' Coleman assistant". Land of 10. 2017-04-12. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  8. ^ Zuvanich, Adam (January 18, 2016). "Belleville East's Pickett pledges to the University of Illinois". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  9. ^ "Illini grant releases for Jeremiah Tilmon, Javon Pickett". The Champaign Room. 2017-04-11. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  10. ^ Ryan, Shannon (November 17, 2016). "Illinois' signing of five-star Jeremiah Tilmon has major implications". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  11. ^ "Illinois basketball recruit Jeremiah Tilmon says Illini have granted him his release". Land of 10. 2017-04-11. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  12. ^ "Illinois lands DaMonte Williams, No. 8 shooting guard in 2017 class". ESPN. February 28, 2016. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  13. ^ Wagner, Jodie; Lichtenstein, Adam (November 9, 2016). "Wellington basketball star Trent Frazier signs with Illinois". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  14. ^ Ryan, Shannon. "Mark Smith, 2017's Mr. Basketball from Edwardsville, chooses Illinois". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  15. ^ "Illini add 2017 Slovenian big Matic Vesel". Scout.com. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  16. ^ Vainisi, Jim (May 24, 2017). "Mark Alstork commits to Illinois Basketball over LSU, South Carolina, Pittsburgh". SB Nation. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  17. ^ Voit, Gordon (March 22, 2017). "Package deal: Illini get Tyler Underwood in addition to Brad Underwood". WAND. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  18. ^ a b "Big Ten tournament at MSG in 2018". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-04-14.
  19. ^ "Izzo concerned about '18 Big Ten tournament in New York". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2017-04-14.