Last season, Brad Underwood used the transfer portal to fill in important starting positions and depth with the additions of Alfonso Plummer and Omar Payne. This year, according to 247 Sports, Illinois had the second best-in-class transmission in the country with the additions of Matthew Meyer, Terrence Shannon and Dane Dinga (and Brad may not).
This incoming transfer class has the potential to add multiple top scorer and starters, so let’s check out this loaded transfer class.
When Matthew Meyer moved from Baylor and committed to Illinois, North Carolina, Texas Tech, and Memphis, he surprised many in the college basketball world. He originally announced for the NBA draft but withdrew and committed to Illinois.
Meyer is a 6-foot-9 striker who can play several positions on the ground. He was a member of the 2020-21 Baylor National Team, where he averaged 8.1 points and played an important role off the bench. Last season, Mayer averaged 9.8 points and 5 rebounds and shot 32.4% of 3. That was down from the 39.5% he fired during the Baylor Championship season.
Another strength is that Meyer is a great all-around player, especially behind the arc both on and off the ball. Underwood will run plays to edit him for open shots throughout the season. It’s an sometimes streaky shooter and can be especially productive if it’s consistent.
Mayer prides himself on his defense as he plays with determination. He has averaged 1.2 steals over the past two seasons and can defend multiple positions. At Baylor, he didn’t have enough playing time to play at his full potential, but being the occasional primary choice for Illinois, would allow him to play to his full potential.
Meyer will need to shoot consistently from third and intermediate levels, especially while the freshman is adjusting to the college game. Ceiling may be an NBA role player.
Terrence Shannon is a 6-foot-6 petite striker who transferred from Texas Tech. He chose Illinois over Michigan, Florida and Georgetown. In his second season, he was named to the All-Big 12 Third-Team when he averaged 12.9 points. Shannon is a particularly explosive athlete when attacking the net. He has a good first step and is known for his mighty dunks.
Compared to his sophomore season, Shannon had a low junior season averaging 10.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. It was a productive three-point shooter and averaged 38%.
Shannon defended at a high level, which helped Texas Tech become one of the best defenses in the country. He uses his height to keep defenders in front of him. This will allow Brad Underwood a lot of flexibility on the defensive side when selecting matches.
Shannon needed to improve his mid-range shooting ability as he struggled to shoot constantly and create his shot. He’s also struggled with injury issues in the past, so staying healthy will be crucial for Shannon to achieve success with Illini this coming season. I expect Shannon to play an important starting role for Eleni throughout the season.
Dain Dainja is a center with a height of 6 feet 9 feet and a wingspan of 7 feet 6 feet. After graduating from high school, Dainja was a former Top 100 potential and committed Baylor. He wore a red shirt in his freshman year of college and then moved to Illinois.
Last season he sat and worked all year long with the strength and conditioning coach in Illinois. Dainja played only 9 minutes of college basketball, but is expected to be an athletic and versatile player. Underwood also described him as comfortable handling and passing basketball and has a good work ethic.
It’s hard to know what to expect from Dainja because he didn’t spend long in college. It is hoped that Dainja will play a strong offensive game but it is not clear from a defensive standpoint. He will be the starting position early in the season and split his playing time with Coleman Hawkins.
Dainja is an important opportunity for Underwood to show how his software can develop players. With Dainja’s production at a starting level or better, it will allow Illini to find more success as a team next season.
For the upcoming season, these transfers are crucial to Eleni’s success. Especially at the beginning of the season, freshmen will rely on the experience and skill of transfers.
Both Matthew Mayer and Terrence Shannon will play the starting roles and Mayer will carry the scoring burden throughout the season. Dain Dainja will see time at the start but could split the opening minutes with Coleman Hawkins and RJ Melendez.
All upcoming transfers are sporting and lengthy, giving Underwood flexibility in the situations in which he will play. The upcoming transfers have high expectations which we hope will translate into next season.