Ayo Dosunmu is a true statesman: Ranking the 10 best current college basketball players from Illinois

The Illini guard is among the nation’s leading scorers, but he’s No. 1 on the list of Illinois products excelling in the college game.

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Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu dribbles up court against Maryland during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game.

Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu dribbles up court against Maryland during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game.

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Ranking high school basketball talent in Illinois is commonplace. But how about ranking the current college basketball players from this state?

There are so many Illinois products producing at a high level and making a major impact in college. When it comes to naming and ranking those players, it’s a task much easier said than done.

There’s a lot to consider: production, winning, experience, the level of Division I basketball they’re playing at and where they’re at in their development as a player.

Nevertheless, here are the rankings of the 10 best college players from Illinois.

1. Ayo Dosunmu
Illinois (Morgan Park)

Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili, left, and guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) are swarmed by fans after the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State in Champaign, Ill.

Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili, left, and guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) are swarmed by fans after the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State in Champaign, Ill.

AP Photos

This one isn’t that difficult. The do-it-all guard has played at an elite level and is on his way to becoming an All-American. Dosunmu is among the nation’s leading scorers and putting up massive numbers, averaging 22.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for a nationally ranked team.

2. Jordan Goodwin
Saint Louis (Belleville Althoff)

Saint Louis’ Jordan Goodwin celebrates during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Dayton Friday, Jan. 17, 2020.

Saint Louis’ Jordan Goodwin celebrates during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Dayton Friday, Jan. 17, 2020.

AP Photos

Although the program has been shut down for an extended period of time because of COVID protocols, the Billikens are a worthy Top 25 team with a 7-1 record. And Goodwin is the catalyst with an eye-opening stat line this season: 16.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game. The senior is an Atlantic 10 Conference player of the year candidate.

3. EJ Liddell
Ohio State (Belleville West)

Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell (32) plays against Northwestern during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in Evanston, Ill.

Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell (32) plays against Northwestern during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in Evanston, Ill.

AP Photos

Liddell led Belleville West to a pair of state championships. Now he’s one of the top players in the Big Ten as a sophomore. Liddell is blossoming with the Buckeyes, averaging 14 points and over six rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

4. Xavier Pinson
Missouri (Simeon)

Missouri’s Xavier Pinson brings the ball up court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee.

Missouri’s Xavier Pinson brings the ball up court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee.

AP Photos

This might surprise some. Pinson was a bit of an unheralded high-major recruit out of high school. But the slender point guard has carved out a heck of a career at Missouri. He leads the Tigers in scoring (14.8 ppg) and assists (3.8 apg) while helping them to a 7-2 record and a Top 25 ranking.

5. Terrence Shannon
Texas Tech (Lincoln Park)

Texas Tech guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (1) reacts during an NCAA college basketball game against Texas.

Texas Tech guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (1) reacts during an NCAA college basketball game against Texas.

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A late bloomer in high school who went the prep school route for one year, Shannon is not only an electric athlete but one who’s producing at a high rate for a ranked team that’s 11-3. The long, wiry 6-6 forward is the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.6 points per game to go with an average of five rebounds.

6. DJ Steward
Duke (Young)

Duke’s DJ Steward (2) drives around Virginia Tech’s Tyrece Radford (23) after getting a defensive rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.

Duke’s DJ Steward (2) drives around Virginia Tech’s Tyrece Radford (23) after getting a defensive rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.

AP Photos

He’s just a freshman, but he has emerged as the second-leading scorer for the Blue Devils, averaging 14 points a game. But he’s also effective in other ways with 4.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and over a steal per game while averaging 32 minutes.

7. Cameron Krutwig
Loyola (Jacobs)

Loyola’s Cameron Krutwig, left, knocks the ball away from Valparaiso’s Mileek McMillan.

Loyola’s Cameron Krutwig, left, knocks the ball away from Valparaiso’s Mileek McMillan.

AP Photos

The skilled 6-9 Krutwig is one of four players in Missouri Valley Conference history to record 1,500 points, 800 rebounds and 300 assists in their career. The other three: Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson and Hersey Hawkins. Krutwig is the centerpiece for a talented Ramblers team that is 8-3. He’s averaging 16.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, two assists and 1.4 blocks.

8. Alonzo Verge Jr.
Arizona State (Thornton)

Arizona State guard Alozo Verge Jr. shouts after drawing a foul against UCLA during the first half of an NCAA men’s college basketball game.

Arizona State guard Alonzo Verge Jr. shouts after drawing a foul against UCLA during the first half of an NCAA men’s college basketball game.

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The always-exciting Verge has seen his numbers improve across the board from a year ago. Although five games have been wiped out because of COVID, Verge is leading the Sun Devils in scoring at 17 points while averaging 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

9. Jeremiah Tilmon
Missouri (East St. Louis)

Missouri forward Jeremiah Tilmon (23) dunks the ball over Arkansas defenders Jalen Tate (11) and Connor Vanover (23).

Missouri forward Jeremiah Tilmon (23) dunks the ball over Arkansas defenders Jalen Tate (11) and Connor Vanover (23).

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Illinois products have fueled Missouri’s rise in the national rankings, including Tilmon, who has been big of late with 41 points and 17 rebounds in his last two games. The 6-10 post player is shooting 63% while averaging 11 points and 7.6 rebounds.

10. Javon Freeman-Liberty
DePaul (Young)

DePaul’s Javon Freeman-Liberty (4) starts a fast break during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Western Illinois.

DePaul’s Javon Freeman-Liberty (4) starts a fast break during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Western Illinois.

AP Photos

After starting his career off with a bang at Valparaiso, the 6-3 guard transferred to DePaul and has made his presence felt as a junior. Although the Blue Demons are struggling, he fills the stat sheet — 14.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and nearly two steals a game — and is the team’s leading scorer.

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