Illinois head men's basketball coach Brad Underwood posted a fired-up reaction to Twitter after guard Terrence Shannon Jr. and forward Coleman Hawkins withdrew their names from the 2023 NBA Draft and chose to return to Illinois.
— Brad Underwood (@CoachUnderwood) June 1, 2023
Shannon, a former four-star recruit out of Chicago, Ill., led the Illini with 17.2 points per game as he shot 44.2% from the field and 32.1% from 3-point range. He initially enrolled with Texas Tech in its 2019 class, where he would spend three years before transferring to Illinois in 2022.
The 6-foot-6-inch guard announced his return to Illinois on Wednesday evening. He had declared for the 2023 NBA Draft in April following a 2022-23 season that saw the Illini go 20-13 overall and 11-9 against conference opponents.
Hawkins, a 6-foot-10-inch forward from Sacramento, Calif., played a key part in an Illinois offensive system that placed third in the Big Ten with 74.3 points per game. His versatility allowed him to average 9.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, three assists, 1.1 steals and 1.2 blocks per game in the 33 games he played and started in during his third season with the Illini.
The Illinois men's basketball team took statement wins over then-No. 14 Wisconsin in January and Michigan in March before falling in a close battle with the Penn State Nittany Lions in the second round of the Big Ten tournament in the 2022-23 season. It would be the team's sixth season under Brad Underwood. Should they return forward Dain Dainja and receive immediate contributions from a 2023 recruiting class that placed No. 35 in the country, Illinois could be in a solid position to continue its success in the Big Ten and beyond.
“I anticipate better dynamics and a better understanding of how we play,” Hawkins said, via ESPN NBA Draft analyst Jonathan Givony. “We'll come together more as a team.
“Last year we had a lot of new guys, freshmen and young guys. We have a better idea now of how to win. The goal is to compete for another Big Ten title, which would be my third one in four years here, that's my goal.”