Here’s a look at Illinois’ top 30 college basketball players, not including freshmen.
1. John Shurna, Northwestern, senior, forward: Shurna looked like an All-American when he was healthy last season. He’s healthy again and should be among the Big Ten’s top players. He’s likely to be the state’s lone 2012 NBA draft prospect.
2. Cleveland Melvin, DePaul, sophomore, forward: Melvin surprised plenty of people by stepping in as a freshman and dominating the Big East. He averaged 17.4 points during Big East play. He’s worked on diversifying his game for this season.
3. Brandon Paul, Illinois, junior, guard: Paul has shown glimpses of his potential the last few seasons. With Illinois losing a bulk of its roster, Paul is set to become its go-to player. Illinois’ fate is in his hands.
4. Drew Crawford, Northwestern, junior, guard: Crawford slightly improved his numbers from his freshman to sophomore season. He’ll look to take another step this season and work toward averaging around 15 points and six rebounds a game.
5. Brandon Young, DePaul, sophomore, guard Young held more than his own as a freshman point guard in the Big East. The Blue Demons would like to give him a chance to score more this season.
6. Ben Averkamp, Loyola, junior, forward: Averkamp has a chance to be a star in the Horizon League. He has a versatile game and has been working on adding a mean streak to it. He’ll get a chance to showcase it against Illinois in the season opener.
7. D.J. Richardson, Illinois, junior, guard: Richardson went through a rough stretch late last season where his shot just wouldn’t fall. Illinois hopes he’ll be more reliable offensively this season. His stellar defense will keep him on the court.
8. Meyers Leonard, Illinois, sophomore, center: Leonard could end up toward the top of this list if he realizes his potential. He struggled his freshman season, but he has all the makings of a star. He will need to limit his fouls this year.
9. Dyricus Simms-Edwards, Bradley, junior, guard: Bradley coach Geno Ford was luckily able to convince Simms-Edwards to stay at Bradley. He scored 15 or more points in eight of Bradley’s last 10 games last season.
10. Sam Maniscalco, Illinois, senior, guard: Maniscalco may end up the best point guard in the state, but there are still questions if he can return to his old self after two ankle surgeries. So far, he’s shown positive signs of achieving that.
11. Alex Marcotullio, Northwestern, junior, guard: Marcotullio is primed to have a breakout season with Juice Thompson’s departure. He played for Great Britain’s U-20 team this summer.
12. Ceola Clark, Western Illinois, senior, guard: Clark sat out the bulk of last season with a toe injury. He’s as versatile as any guard in the state. He has the potential for a few triple-doubles this season.
13. Luka Mirkovic, Northwestern, senior, center: Mirkovic is thought to be in the best shape of his career. He averaged 7.4 points and 5.2 rebounds last season.
14. Jeremiah Kelly, DePaul, senior, guard: Kelly is among the Big East’s top 3-point shooters when he’s on. He’ll look to be more consistent in his final season.
15. Krys Faber, DePaul, senior, center: Faber’s interior play will be key for the Blue Demons. He averaged 7.0 points and 5.3 rebounds last season.
16. Mamadou Seck, Southern Illinois, senior, forward: Seck will be focused on more this season with Gene Teague’s departure. He averaged 10.8 points and 8.1 rebounds last season.
17. Taylor Brown, Bradley, senior, forward: Brown will look to return to form after sitting out last season. He averaged 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds the previous year.
18. JerShon Cobb, Northwestern, sophomore, guard: Cobb was aggressive last season and averaged 7.4 points as a freshman. He had hip surgery in the offseason.
19. Moses Morgan, DePaul, sophomore, forward: Morgan came on late last season and scored in double figures in five of his team’s last six games.
20. Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State, junior, forward: Carmichael is the team’s returning leading scorer and rebounder from last season.
21. Justin Bocot, Southern Illinois, senior, guard: Bocot found his groove late last season. He finished with five consecutive games of double-digit scoring.
22. Jordan Hicks, Loyola, senior, guard: Hicks still needs to get completely healthy, but he could be Loyola’s second best player.
23. Jeremy Granger, Eastern Illinois, senior, guard: Granger averaged a team-high 14.5 points last season. He also shot .904 from the free-throw line.
24. Tyler Griffey, Illinois, junior, forward: Griffey should have a larger role this season after a disappointing sophomore season.
25. Tim Toler, Northern Illinois, senior, forward: Toler is among the few returnees for the Huskies. He averaged 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds last season.
26. Hayden Humes, UIC, sophomore, forward: Humes is a versatile forward who should fit UIC’s system. He averaged 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds at Toledo last season.
27. John Wilkins, Illinois State, junior, guard: Wilkins has yet to find consistency in his game, but he has the tools to be an impact player.
28. Mark Yelovich, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, junior, forward: Yelovich sat out most of last season. He averaged 16.7 points and 5.9 rebounds his first year.
29. Jeremy Robinson, Chicago State, junior, forward: Robinson, a former Illinois State player, will be Chicago State’s go-to player this season.
30. Darrin Williams, UIC, senior, center: Williams dropped 25-plus pounds in the offseason. The Flames are optimistic it’ll lead to be more production.