Luke Goode’s current status (Good-EEE) is confusing. On the one hand, he appears to be the least publicized of the 2021 class. On the other hand, staff feedback and training performances increasingly show that he could be the first freshman to contribute. in November.
Goode’s backseat ticket on the Fighting Illini hype train is at least understandable. The 2021 class gave Illinois fans a wealth of potential to dream of. Illinois added four four-star rookies in 2021, including Florida transfer Omar Payne. Brad Underwood also brought in an unranked fifth player. Fortunately, Alfonso Plummer is a prolific three-point shooter with over 50 games of power 5 experience. The 2021 Illinois class isn’t just talented, it’s tall. Almost 36% of current stock players weren’t Illini last year, and outside of unranked Plummer, no 2021 engagements have been rated below 107. In the past few years, Luke Goode has -be the headliner of his recruiting class. This year, however, he’s part of a class that combines skill and depth as well as everything in recent Illinois history.
In October, talent is only potential. Sometimes that potential turns into talent, and sometimes that potential doesn’t match the talent on the pitch. Goode seemed to have passed much of the offseason under the radar compared to his 2021 peers because his potential seemed, well, less powerful. However, the redhead Hoosier may have the talent on the court to place himself at the top of the freshman hierarchy.
What Illinois gets
A very long and solid wing with good shooting stroke and good basketball IQ. These are all reasons he might be the first freshman to carve out a role for himself. Goode has improved his shooting dramatically in his senior year, hitting a career high three and achieving a career high 40% beyond the arc. Goode has struggled a bit with his shooting in previous seasons, and those struggles likely contributed to his first-year 3-star 247Sports rating. He put those difficulties aside and played for a Homestead basketball team that went 25-1, their only loss being to state champion Carmel. Goode contributed across the board, leading Homestead in assists per game, rebounds per game and was second in points per game.
Goode’s solid and balanced play in a tough conference from a basketball-rich state only reinforces the idea that he could be an early contributor. Goode doesn’t have an explosive athleticism, especially compared to his freshman peers. In today’s game, it lowers public perception, fair or unfair. Goode overcomes the lack of explosiveness by owning NBA length along with consistent shots, rebounds and passes. With Illinois lacking proven forward depth, Goode’s balanced and consistent play could help stabilize one of the few gray areas in Underwood’s rotation.
What to expect
Five to ten minutes of forward scoring seems like a fair wait for Goode right now. You don’t want too high expectations for freshmen, who are often at a disadvantage physically and defensively, but Goode has the size, balanced play, and experience in a competitive environment to give depth to an area that needs it most. I don’t see Omar Payne playing four-way, and the fact that the conversation is still going on is enough proof that the playing time is available.
The Illini established a cohesive lineup at the end of the season consisting of Jacob Grandison and Adam Miller up front with Da’Monte Williams and Giorgi Beshanishvili providing depth. Grandison will keep his place and Williams will slip into Miller’s, but who follows them remains a mystery. If Goode can prove he’s a 3-point threat and use his length effectively, there is an immediate role for him as a depth option for Grandison and Williams.
Grandison and Williams left next year, leaving the forward rotation even more murky than before. If Goode cracks the rotation and contributes to a squad expected to meet or exceed 2020 success, he’ll be preparing well to replace Grandison. Illinois is likely to enter a mini-rebuild after 2021 as the program could lose all five starters. Goode, along with fellow freshmen Brandin Podziemski and Ramses Melendez, form the core of Illini’s next big team. While the other two may struggle to find playing time this year, Goode should be able to immediately contribute deep minutes while positioning himself as the forward of the future.