Terrence Shannon Jr. has emerged as one of the best guards in college basketball

Las vigas Matthew Mayer Compete against Terence Shannon In the Big 12 for three seasons, Shannon was a key starter for Texas Tech and a key contributor to back-to-back Big 12 championships for Baylor.

But Meyer had never seen Shannon quite like this.

“He turned into a Steph Curry when he got here, I think,” Meyer said after Shannon made 8 of 9 three-point attempts to lead No. 19 Illinois to a 79-70 victory over UCLA on Friday in the Main Event Semifinals at the T-T mobile yard.

For the past few seasons Shannon has played a supplemental starting role (11.0 points per game over 83 games) for Texas Tech, which has won three NCAA Tournament games over the past two seasons. But over his first four games with Illinois, Shannon blossomed into one of college basketball’s best guards, an All-American candidate, and a potential first-round pick.

Four days after scoring a career high 30 points for Monmouth, Shannon shone on Friday at Sin City. In a tournament featuring four seeded teams and several first-round NBA draft prospects, Shannon shone bright, scoring 29 points and tying an Illinois record with eight.

Shannon’s size (6-foot-6, 215 pounds), athleticism, and skill (35.1% from three, 79.1% free throws) for years drew the attention of NBA scouts. But in Illinois with greater ball-in-hand freedom and an improved skill set that came through a tough work ethic, the Chicago native took a leap forward—and appeared in front of dozens of NBA front desks. Executives and Scouts on Friday.

ESPN analyst Fran Vracilla He witnessed Shannon’s development up close. He called several Big 12 games for ESPN and saw Shannon’s impact at Texas Tech. But after being called up to the Illini game on Friday, Fraschilla was blown away by Shannon’s improvement — and he believes the Illini senior will quickly rise to the draft boards.

“He gets a lot of credit for making himself into what might now be a first-round pick after tonight,” Frascella told the Illini Inquirer. “If he played this way all year, he would play himself a first-round middle. Last spring, he was a mid-to-last second-round pick, mainly due to injuries, and he wasn’t able to do the things he wanted to do physically, but more importantly So, he put a lot of effort into his game.”

Over four games, Shannon averaged 24.3 points in 28.5 minutes per game while shooting 57.4% from the field, 53.8% from three and 74.4% from the free throw line. But scoring isn’t the only way his game has evolved. Through four games, Shannon (7.5 rebounds per game) has more than doubled his rebounding percentage. He was a significantly better distributor of dribbling (3.5 assists per game), and his pass rate is the highest of his career. Oh, and Shannon is still a defensive snob (his stalking blocks look like LeBron).

Shannon is currently the 85th overall pick on ESPN for the 2023 NBA Draft, but that has to change. While his age (22) may work against him, Shannon is the kind of two-way general managers the modern NBA aspires to be, and he can make an immediate impact at the next level.

And Frachilla noted that Shannon looks healthier this season after dealing with back problems last season at Texas Tech. But former Division I head coach Frachilla has also seen tremendous development in Shannon’s creation and scoring ability.

“I can’t get over how much better his jump is. He even drives right-handed, which every team in the Big 12 knew he couldn’t do,” said Vracella. “Obviously he put a lot of work in during the off period, and it’s paying off. I’ve never seen a guy go from being an ordinary shooter to a guy who plays like he’s Steve Curry or Clay Thompson. Tonight was a great game for him because it shows that hard work in the off-season pays off.”

Illinois coach Brad Underwood Agree with Frachela’s assessment. Underwood thought Shannon could unleash more offensive potential in his more open offensive system—especially with his ability to get to the rim almost at will—but credits Shannon’s insatiable desire to improve for his step forward and becoming one of college basketball’s best point guards.

“I think our technique helps him. We really encouraged his speed on the slopes,” Underwood said. It’s amazing how hard work he finds success and how it becomes a part of his personality.

“He’s doing it on both ends. He’s turned on that guy.”

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