Daily Digest | Eleni breaks ESPN ratings pre-season; Hawthorne joins SIU’s coaching staff

There is a lot of news every day. The Illini Inquirer will try to ease your digestion every morning of the week with the Daily Digest.


(Photo: Illinois Athletics)

Illinois broke the latest college basketball rankings in ESPN way too early. After adding Baylor transfer Matthew MayerIllinois is now ranked No. 25 in the reporter Jeff Borzello’s pre-season ratings.

  • in another place: After adding Mayer, Illinois jumped from No. 30 in T-Rank’s 2023 college basketball predictions in barttorvik.com to No. 14, the second highest among the top ten teams. But CBS does not include Illinois in its latest edition Pre-season power ratings.

Borzello writes: “Illinois is making a huge leap, all the way from outside the ‘next in line’ points to inside the top 25. This is mainly due to the addition of the Baylor transition Matthew Mayer, one of the top 10 conversions available at the time. Mayer may not have had the true breakthrough season many expected after a junior campaign where he was the key bench piece for the national title-winning Bears team, but he brought the rightful size at 6ft 9 to go along with the sport, versatility and ability to shoot from the ocean. Will unite with fellow transfer Terence Shannon son to form the best winger duo in the Big Ten.”

what do you mean: A month ago, Illinois looked like a team rebuilding the Big Ten after losing five starters, three All-Ten picks and two All-America team. But after adding two of the best transfers on the market—Mayer and Shannon—and a top-10 recruiting class, Illinois created some pre-season hype with a seriously talented, fresh-looking roster.


(Photo: Jeremy Werner, 247 Sports)

Illini striker Jacob Grandison He pulled out of the NBA draft over the weekend and has now entered the transfer gateseveral outlets reported on Tuesday.

  • Grandison played in 30 games last season and started in 23 of them, averaging 9.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. The 24-year-old was limited at the end of the regular season and in postseason with a shoulder injury that coach Brad Underwood He said she requires off-season surgery.

why does it matter: Grandison’s departure continues to retool the Illinois men’s basketball team roster which has resulted in the team becoming increasingly younger. A skilled veteran warrior must be in great demand.

background: Grandison played two seasons in Illinois after his picket year in 2019-20 due to NCAA transfer rules at the time. Prior to that, he played for two years in Holy Cross. Wearing Grandison in orange and blue, Illini won the Big Ten Championship in 2020-21 and was the top seed in the NCAA Championship. Illinois was 14-2 with Grandison in the starting lineup all that season. Last year, Grandison more than doubled his average scoring on a team that won a share of the Big Ten regular season.

what do you mean: This offseason has been a complete overhaul of Underwood’s roster. Illinois has lost six of its top seven scorers and 84.5% of its scoring from last season and should replace 148 of its 165 starts and 80.7% minutes since last season, including five players with the most starts last season. Only one player averaging over 10 minutes per match returns, striker Coleman Hawkinsalong with two promising sophomores, RJ Melendez And the Luke GoodBig Man Baylor Transfer din dinga. But the Illini team has put together one of its best off-season recruits with its No. 2 transfer class – titled Top 20 Transfer Wings. Matthew Mayer (Baylor) and Terence Shannon (Texas Tech) – And Employment Grade No. 9 Prep, Titled Top 50 Potential Companies Sky ClarkAnd the Ty Rodgers And the Jayden Epps. Illinois will have a fresh look, but with so much talent in Champaign, it looks like the Illini will once again have a chance to compete at the top of the Big Ten.


Terry HawthorneThe stay in Arkansas was short. Two months after landing a job as a defensive analyst with the Razorbacks, the former Illinois football player and recruiter joined the Southern Illinois soccer team as a corner coach.

why does it matter: Hawthorne, who was the director of Illinois High School Personnel and Illini Relations last year, left Illinois to move a step closer to a training assistant position, and soon landed a coaching job in Division I. It was a fairly rapid rise for Hawthorn given that only 15 months ago he was an assistant coach at East St.Louis High School, his alma mater.

background: Hawthorne was a Top 100 recruit from East St. Louis and was a rookie for three years with the Illini team and had 28 career passes and six career interceptions, helping lead the Illini team to back-to-back bowl games in 2010 and 2011, including a defensive MVP performance At the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. He was then a fifth-round pick from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013 and played professionally in the Canadian Football League before becoming an assistant coach at East St. Louis.


Former Illinois baseball star Michael Massey has been named the Texas Major League Player of the Year Having topped 13-27 in the league (.481) with one Grand Slam, three doubles and nine RBIs across six games. Massey plays for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, affiliated with the Kansas City Royals Double-A, and had five multi-stroke games during his six-game stint.

  • Massey, a native of Palos Park (Ill.), cuts 328/.376/.546 (57 versus 174) with 42 for Naturals. The second baseman currently leads the team by eight home runs and ranks first among all Double-A hitters with 44 hitters, and also leads the Naturals with 22 extra base hits, 95 total base hits and a 30-point hit, all ranking among the University of Texas captains. His average of 328 placed him fifth in the league, while he finished second on 57 strokes.

background: Massey was a three-time All-Big Ten pick in Illinois, including the 2019 All-Big Ten First Team pick. Over 159 games in three seasons, Massey cut .317/.392/.485 with 43 doubles and 17 points at home, 110 RBI, 87 points. He was the best Illini player in program history, going to the Royals with the 109th overall pick (fourth round) of the 2019 MLB Draft.


(Photo: Jeremy Werner)

Kofi Cockburn It was not intended to be formulated in The latest two-round NBA draft simulation by ESPN’s Jonathan Givoni. ESPN ranked the Illinois Pan American Center twice at number 85 in its 58 draft pick on June 23.

  • why does it matter: Givony is one of the most accomplished draft experts in the business, and despite mostly positive reviews from his NBA Draft Combine performance, Cockburn is still not a draft pick.

Top 10 ESPN Fake Draft Players



Have a wonderful Wednesday! ‘Top Gun 2’ copied the same types of characters from the original, but, boy, was that an entertaining popcorn flick…