College basketball: Transfer portal treasures, where the 10 best locals are headed

The busy, active and heavily talked about transfer portal in college basketball this spring has included dozens of former Illinois prep products who are on the move.

Many of those former Illinois high school stars are impact players and almost all of them have found a new home for next season.

Here are the 10 best transfers and where they’re headed (listed alphabetically).

Darius Burford, Bolingbrook (Elon to Illinois State)

A huge addition for first-year coach Ryan Pedon at Illinois State. The jet-quick guard is dynamic in the backcourt and fresh off averaging 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and three assists as a sophomore this past season.

Bryce Hopkins, Fenwick (Kentucky to Providence)

A fresh start for the former top 50 player in the country as a senior in high school. Hopkins played sparingly as a freshman at Kentucky, averaging just six minutes a game. The 6-6 forward will have a great opportunity to establish himself in the Big East this season.

Connor Kochera, St. Viator (William & Mary to Davidson)

Kochera hit the ground running in his first year of college basketball. As a freshman he averaged 13.4 points and 4.8 rebounds. Those numbers resulted in being named the Colonial Rookie of the Year.

As a sophomore this past season the skilled 6-5 Kochera put up 10.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists. He upped the number of three-pointers made from 25 as a freshman to 44 as a sophomore.

Now he makes the big step up from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Atlantic 10 Conference champions.

Dante Maddox Jr., Bloom (Cal-State Fullerton to Toledo)

The strong, athletic 6-2 guard put together a heck of a freshman season two years ago. Maddox averaged 11.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 43 percent from three and 90 percent from the line. This past season he averaged 6.8 points a game.

Now Maddox heads to a program where several Illinois products have thrived over the years.

Javon Pickett, Belleville East (Missouri to Saint Louis)

Following four years at Missouri, where he started 84 games and scored 950 career points, the hard-nosed 6-4 guard is heading even closer to home for his final college season. Last season Pickett averaged 11.1 points and 3.1 rebounds for the Tigers.

Xavier Pinson, Simeon (LSU to New Mexico State)

The smooth point guard has been productive at both of his high-major spots.

In his junior season at Mizzou, his last season there prior to transferring to LSU, Pinson averaged 13.6 points and 2.9 assists.

This past season for fired LSU coach Will Wade, Pinson was a starter in the SEC and averaged 9.8 points while upping his assist and steals numbers to 4.8 and 1.9, respectively.

Antonio Reeves, Simeon (Illinois State to Kentucky)

Following a season where he averaged 20.1 points and a three-year career where he scored nearly 1,200 career points, Reeves was one of the most coveted players in the transfer portal.

The shooting he provides is a premium in the game today, and Reeves made 76 three-pointers as a junior while shooting a very respectable 39 percent from beyond the arc.

Terrence Shannon Jr, Lincoln Park (Texas Tech to Illinois)

The physical attributes are off-the-charts. A lengthy 6-6 gazelle who can run with guards in the open floor and elevates off the floor as well as anyone.

Shannon has a vast amount of high-level experience, including 21 starts for the 2020 Final Four team as a freshman. He put up modest numbers this past season, averaging 10.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and two assists.

Illinois and coach Brad Underwood will welcome all that Shannon brings to the table next season.

Malachi Smith, Belleville West (Tennessee-Chattanooga to Undecided)

A late entry into the transfer portal just a few weeks ago, Smith is working out for NBA teams while still zeroing in on a potential landing spot in college.

The 6-4 guard blossomed into a star who led Chattanooga to a NCAA Tournament berth this past season. He averaged 19.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and three assists. He’s a two-time All-Southern Conference performer and has scored over 1,300 career points in his three years.

Jeremiah Williams, Simeon (Temple to Iowa State)

The 6-5 Williams is a stat-sheet stuffer and as versatile as they come, capable of playing and defending multiple positions.

In years at Temple, where he started 37 games, Williams proved to be an elite defender.His two-year career numbers of 9.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists show his overall productivity.

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