Indiana is down to two open scholarships for the 2023-24 season, and the focus is now clearly on guards and wings from here.
One player the IU staff has had their eyes on for a while and will make a run at now that he’s in the portal is former Toledo lead guard RayJ Dennis.
Dennis was the unanimous MAC Player of the Year this season.
The 6-foot-2 Dennis averaged 19.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 2022-23 while leading Toledo to a 27-8 record and the Mid-American Conference regular-season title. He shot 48 percent from the field overall, and a career-high 37 percent from three. Dennis shot 52.3 percent from two and 77.8 percent from the charity stripe last season.
Dennis has improved significantly as a shooter. He’s gone from making 27.6% from 3-point range his first two years (at Boise State) to 34.9% his last two.
From an advanced metric standpoint Dennis had a very high usage rate — 28.7 percent (No. 92 in the country), and he took 30.4 percent of the shots when on the floor (No. 65). His assist rate was 32.1 percent, No. 41 in the country, and his turnover rate was relatively low considering his significant role — 11.5 percent, No. 198.
Dennis has one more year of eligibility remaining after playing two years at Boise State and two at Toledo. He also entered his name into the NBA Draft and has until May 31 to withdraw and return to college. He’s not currently projected to be selected in the draft.
The conventional wisdom is Illinois will be hard to beat. Dennis is from Plainfield, Illinois, a Chicago suburb — and Illinois needs a proven point guard. Each of point guards Skyy Clark and Jayden Epps only lasted a year with head coach Brad Underwood, which created the need. The Illini do have Sincere Harris back, and Utah Valley transfer Justin Harmon and freshman Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn coming in.
Dennis has served as a primary ball handler throughout his career, so convincing him to play alongside Xavier Johnson could be a challenge for the IU staff, although that was the plan for Jalen Hood-Schifino going into the 2022-23 campaign, and it started well before Johnson was injured.
Dennis was a 3-star out of high school, and ranked just No. 467 according to the 247Sports Composite. Illinois did not offer the local product at the time. He did have more than 20 offers out of Oswego East H.S. including Toledo, Colorado State, Southern Illinois, Northeastern, Bradley, Vermont, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and others before choosing Boise State.
For a summary of all of Indiana and Big Ten offseason roster activity along with Hoosier portal prospects, GO HERE:
IU basketball/Big Ten roster tracker: departures, additions and prospects (updated 4/29)
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