Illinois fans were a bit unsure what to think when Gregory Eboigbodin, formerly a commit to the University of Illinois-Chicago, committed to become an Illini in the 2017 class. Eboigbodin wasn’t a heavily followed recruit by the casual Illinois fan, but to me, Eboigboidin could turn out to be exactly what the Illinois basketball’s class of 2017 needs.
Though Illini fans may have been sure what to think when highly-coveted recruit Jeremiah Tilmon decommitted from the University of Illinois earlier this year (hint: they were maybe a tad more than a little angry), they could be shrugging it off, should the addition of Eboigbodin pay off.
At U of D Jesuit, Greg played alongside Michigan State guard Cassius Winston. The dynamic duo took the Michigan High School basketball scene by storm, and led U of D to the program’s first ever state championship, and the duo also teamed up with MSU star Miles Bridges to play their AAU ball. Gregory was born in Nigeria, and, much to the surprise of many who have watched him play, he has only played competitive basketball for three years.
His statistics as a senior marked him as averaging a double-double, with 14 points, and 14 rebounds, as well as around 2 blocks per game. Solid marks for the 6’9 Power Forward
My favorite thing about Eboigbodin is his high motor and versatility on the court. Brad Underwood has made a career out of creating solid role players out of players who want to work, and who understand their role in making sure a team scores, and ultimately wins. Eboigbodin’s height as well as his large wingspan (over seven feet) will prove handy to an Illinois team that lacks in height.
Eboigbodin proved in high school that he is willing to hustle and fight for rebounds, as well as second chance opportunities. Underwood is great at taking players who may not be the most spectacular coming into college, and turning them into work-horses who provide much needed hustle, and intensity on the court. Illinois fans will find this a refreshing change to teams in the past, who have looked to not even want to win. According to most reports coming out of Champaign-Urbana this summer, Underwood’s playstyle is being taken up well by the Illinois team, players both new and old to the Illini. This should serve as an encouraging thing to anyone who expects progression from the Illini this year.
Eboigbodin has a way to go before he will be considered a physical threat on the offensive side of the floor. He has a good jump shot for someone with only a three-year level of experience in competitive basketball, and definitely has a high upside in that category, which is why I’ve listed his position as a stretch Power Forward.
With a quick search of his highlights on YouTube, you can see that what Eboigbodin lacks in well-tempered skill, he makes up for in hustle, and ability to help his teammates find their shots.
Arguably one of his most important skillsets will be as a body, allowing teammates like Leron Black, Michael Finke, to get rest, and time on the bench, in an Illinois team that lacks a lot of size.
Greg Eboigbodin will provide a useful motor and high intensity defensive presence for an Illini team that could end up lacking in that category. Eboigbodin’s hustle, and versatility will be useful for Brad Underwood’s fast paced and guard-centered offense. Eboigbodin probably won’t see the minutes of the likes of Michael Finke, but will have a similar effect on the Illinois game plan, being that he is a tall, mobile forward who has plenty of jump shot potential, as well as an ability to run the court well.
Check back for the next breakdown of the Illinois recruiting class coming in a few days, and check the Sports Guys twitter for an update on who the next breakdown will cover!