CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Chaundee Brown has obviously been identified as part of the Illinois program’s selective recruiting process of the transfer market.
The transfer guard from Wake Forest, who announced on April 15 his decision to enter his name into the NBA draft as well as the NCAA transfer portal, doesn’t necessarily fit the Illini’s staff desire to find more shooting for its 2020-21 roster, as his game represents more of a slasher than a shooter, with just 89 total made three-pointers in three seasons.
“That was one of the things we were most disappointed in,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said about the lack of outside shooting last season on his Zoom video media conference on April 23. “We were a little surprised by that.”
Underwood mentioned the additions of Holy Cross transfer guard Jacob Grandison, Division III All-American transfer wing Austin Hutcherson, 2020 Illinois Mr. Basketball selection Adam Miller and California three-star forward Coleman Hawkins as players who could take on a shooting role next season. If the Illinois staff is confident they have the pieces to be a better shooting team, Underwood may be able to take on a slasher offensive player like Brown to meet a demand for the 2021-22 season.
“We’ve got to bring in the best players who fit our style and not get overly concerned (with how old they are),” Underwood said. “I think the days of worrying about class balance...those days are long, long gone.”
However, his strength (at over 220 pounds in his 6-foot-5 frame) may be perfect to play both the two and three in Brad Underwood’s three-guard offense sets. Underwood has expressed his intense desire to bring in sit-out transfers more than the instantly eligible graduate transfer option.
With Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn declaring for the NBA draft but allowing for the opportunity to return if they choose to, Illinois has two scholarships in a limbo situation and one completely open scholarship to evaluate the transfer market.
“It’s one of those things that is the challenge when you have guys in the draft, you know we’ll look for the best available (but) we’re being very, very selective,” Underwood said. “To be honest, it’s got to be the right fit. It’s got to be about winning. Is somebody going to step in here and average 20 (points) per game? Probably not.”
Brown was Wake Forest's third-leading scorer last season at 12.1 points per game and its second-best rebounder at 6.5 boards per game. He missed eight games due to injuries to an ankle injury and a torn calf muscle during the 2019-20 season but showcased his ability when close to healthy by having 24 points and nine rebounds in a double-overtime win against Duke in late February.
Brown announced his intention to transfer from Wake Forest a few weeks before the school’s decision to terminate head coach Danny Manning Saturday, which will reportedly cost the athletics department a $15 million buyout. Brown’s announcement marked Manning’s program retained none of the nine players the Demon Deacons recruited between 2016 and 2018.
The Deacons were 78-111 and 30-80 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Manning’s six seasons at Wake Forest with their best finish in the league was a 10th-place showing in 2017, which is the only season in the last decade that concluded with a postseason berth (a First Four loss to Kansas State).