The two most highly-regarded and decorated players from the class, Duke’s DJ Steward and Illinois’ Adam Miller, have certainly had their moments and been impactful.
The Class of 2020 hasn’t exactly lit up the college basketball world in the opening weeks of the season.
But the two most highly-regarded and decorated players from the class, Duke’s DJ Steward and Illinois’ Adam Miller, have certainly had their moments and been impactful.
When Duke and Illinois met earlier this week in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge it was a reunion of sorts. Steward and Miller had squared off the past two years as high school basketball stars at Young and Morgan Park, respectively.
Illinois took care of Duke 83-68 with Miller doing what he does best with a trio of three-pointers to finish with nine points. Steward also made three three-pointers and finished with 13 points.
Steward is playing 30 minutes a game for the Blue Devils. He’s averaging 13.4 points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal a game. He scored 24 points on 4-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc in his Duke debut, a 81-71 win over Coppin State.
Miller started with a bang. He scored 28 in his debut against North Carolina A&T, followed it up with 15 points in a win over Chicago State and is averaging 11.8 points and 2.2 rebounds a game in 29 minutes of action. More importantly, he’s given a highly-ranked Illinois team with huge expectations exactly what it needed: perimeter shooting.
When looking at the big picture, it’s clear Steward and Miller have produced the most of the current crop of freshmen from Illinois. And while the story may be about the lack of overall early production at the college level out of the Class of 2020, there are a few others who have had their moments.
St. Viator product Connor Kochera, a 6-3 scoring guard who is playing at William & Mary, made a big opening splash in his first college game. He led the Tribe with 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting in a 86-78 loss to Old Dominion. But Covid has shut down William & Mary basketball for two weeks in December.
Following a stellar career at Morgan Park, Marcus Watson is playing 30 minutes a game and leading Western Illinois in assists and steals.
While the 5-10 point guard’s scoring averaged is modest at 6.3 points a game, he’s chipping in with 3.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and two steals a game through the first three games of the season.
Transactions: Illinois preps in the pros
West Chicago’s John Konchar signed a four-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies for $9 million.
Meyers Leonard, who led Robinson to a state championship and played two years at Illinois, will remain with the Miami Heat. The 7-footer signed a two-year deal for $20 million.
Sterling Brown, the former Proviso East star, signed a one-year contract with the Houston Rockets for $1,678,854 in late November.
Big man Jahlil Okafor from Young signed a two-year contract with the Detroit Pistons. Terms of the deal have not been announced.
Benet’s Frank Kaminski inked a one-year contract with the Sacramento Kings.
The biggest winner was Rockford Auburn’s Fred Van Vleet, who re-signed with the Toronto Raptors for four years and $85 million.