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Illinois Basketball Looking To Fill One More Key Piece In 2024 Recruiting Class, Among 4 schools Targeting Lithuanian Star Guard

Coach Brad Underwood and his Illinois Fighting Illini staff have had a strong offseason. But the Illini are reportedly looking to add one more key piece to their 2024 recruiting class.

Illinois is coming off one of its best seasons in two decades. The Illini won 29 games, including 14 during Big Ten play, and reached the NCAA Elite 8. The 29 victories are the program’s most since winning 35 contests and reaching the national championship game in 2004-05.

However, Illinois has lost a lot of talent this offseason. Terrence Shannon Jr., Quincy Guerrier, Justin Harmon, and Marcus Domansk have exhausted their eligibility. Illinois also lost Coleman Hawkins, Luke Goode, and Dain Dainja to the transfer portal. Hawkins has left open the possibility of returning to the Champaigne as he continues to test the NBA waters.

With those departures, Illinois had just one returning starter, Ty Rogers, and Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn was the only player in Underwood’s top nine still on the roster.

The good news for the Illini is that Underwood has brought in the 28th-best 2024 recruiting class in the nation, including the 16th-best group of transfers, according to 247Sports.

Illinois Basketball Are Looking To Fill One More Key Piece In 2024 Recruiting Class, Among Teams Targeting

Underwood has brought in eight newcomers, five of whom are transfers. Tre White is the top player among the five transfers, though four of them were given four-star ratings by 247 Sports. Kylan Boswell, Carey Booth, and Ben Humrichous were also rated four-star transfers. Meanwhile, Jake Davis was given a three-star designation.

Consensus four-star and top-35 recruit Morez Johnson leads three high school players in Underwood’s recruiting class. Three-plus star Jason Jakstys and 7-foot Croatian Tomislav Ivisic are the other high school players in the recruiting class.

Illinois has three scholarships available in 2024. While the return of Hawkins would be a massive coop for the Illini, they really need to add depth in the backcourt.

Illini Pursuing Kasparas Jakucionis

As a result of their backcourt needs, Illinois has turned its attention to 18-year-old Lithuanian Kasparas Jakucionis, per the IlliniInquirer Podcast. Jakucionis, a 6-5 200-pound combo guard, spent time with FC Barcelona Regal U-18 and Appeared in four games for Barcelona of the Spanish ACB League.

Derek Piper of IlliniInquirer said on the podcast that the “Illini is all-in on Jakucionis.”

Jakucionis and his U-18 Barca squad just finished up the EuroLeague’s Addidas Next Generation Tournament Berlin this weekend. Barca went 1-2 in the tournament. However, Jakucionis showed out in the three contests.

Jakucionis averaged 19.0 points with a shooting slash line of .366/.238/.880j in nearly 29 minutes a game. Jakucionis produced 4.6 rebounds, 12.6 assists, 3.6 steals, and 3.6 turnovers. He scored in double-figures twice, tallying 31 points in Barca’s last game of the tournament, and produced double-digit assists twice, including setting an ANGT record with 17 dimes in Game 1.

Jakucionis is a high-IQ floor general with long arms who can make plays himself or others. Jakucious has excellent court vision and is a top-notch passer. He is not overly athletic, but it is tough for opponents to stay in front when he gets downhill.

Jakucious is a good finisher at the rim and does a fantastic job getting to the free-throw line. While Jakucious does have to work on his perimeter shooting, he possesses a nice, smooth jumper with a quick release.

Piper said Wake Forest, Florida, and BYU are also pursuing Jakucionis hard. Additionally, Piper added that Jakucious also has pro opportunities.




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