BREAKING NEWS: Illini Forward Tevian Jones To Return For Big Ten Opener

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Tevian Jones will be in uniform for Illinois’ Big Ten Conference opener.

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood made the announcement of the return of the sophomore forward during his media availability inside the Ubben Basketball Complex Friday morning.

“He’ll suit up,” Underwood said. “Tev gives us length. He gives us an athlete we don’t have. He’s a guy can obviously make shots (but) Tev has to be consistent. He hasn’t played a game yet but he’s been really, really good in practice. He’s a guy that can be a really hard shot-maker.”

Illinois (6-2) will play at No. 3 Maryland Saturday for a 4 p.m. tip in the league opener for both teams.

Jones has been suspended indefinitely since Oct. 26 for what the school called a “violation of team academic policies” but had still been active for practices since the start of this season.

Jones, who was expected to compete for playing time at the small forward position this season, averaged 3.5 points and 1.4 rebounds in 24 games last season.

Jones’s 2018-19 season highlights included a career-high 18 points with a career-high-tying four rebounds and career-high-tying two steals in a win over Maryland at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 26.

This was the second suspension for Jones since arriving on the Illinois campus. The 6-foot-7 wing player was suspended for eight games last season for a different undisclosed violation of team rules.

“I’m really proud of Tev,” Underwood said. “He had some academic situations that we addressed and he’s handled those and there is a lot more to being a part of this than the basketball side. Don’t forget about the student side. We hold guys accountable and to his credit, he’s handled that very matter-of-factly and in a great way.”

Underwood attempted to downplay the potential early contribution of Jones to the rotation despite the Illini’s obvious lack of frontcourt depth at the power forward and center spots.

“We’ll see how that plays out in terms of minutes and defensive assignments,” Underwood about Jones’ early production expectations. “He’s not what I would consider in game shape. He’s in practice shape. He’s been on the treadmill and doing extra workouts in terms of what his conditioning needs to be.”

Underwood and the rest of his staff have been pleased with the production from the 3 spot on the floor whether it be from senior starter Andres Feliz or backup wings Alan Griffin and Da’Monte Williams.

The former four-star prospect by both and averaged 20.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting 54% from the field as a senior at Culver City High School in California. Jones spent his first three years of his prep career at Chandler (Ariz.) High School.