USA Today // Brad Penner

Illini land fifth-year transfer Khalid Lewis

Illinois basketball lands a commitment from LaSalle fifth-year transfer guard Khalid Lewis to boost depth

Days after first getting acquainted with the Illinois basketball coaching staff on a quickly-organized campus visit, La Salle fifth-year transfer point guard Khalid Lewis decided he'd like to spend the next eight months with the Illini, giving his verbal commitment on Saturday.

Lewis -- who chose the Illini over Baylor, TCU and Iona -- will be immediately eligible, though he won't travel with the team during its European trip the next few weeks.

Lewis, who visited the Illinois campus Tuesday night through Thursday afternoon, gives the Illini a much-needed boost at point guard. For the second straight season, Illinois senior Tracy Abrams suffered a season-ending injury during the offseason. Last year, he suffered a torn ACL. Last month, he suffered a torn Achilles' tendon. That left Jaylon Tate as the only player on the roster with Division I point guard experience -- until Lewis gave his commitment.

Lewis averaged six points and more than two assists per game in 27.5 minutes per game last season at La Salleand shot 37.4 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from three. Lewis originally played at Delaware before transferring to La Salle. He has not been an efficient offensive player, never topping a KenPom offensive efficiency rating of 86 during his career (96-100 is about average). He is a career 38.1 percent shooter and 27.6 percent three-point shooter, and according to, he shot 39.0 percent at the rim last year (Tate shot 72.7 percent at the rim) but he does have a somewhat effective 2-point jumper (39.8 percent).

But Illinois will not need Lewis to be a lights-out scorer. They need a capable ballhandler. Lewis has struggled at times with turnovers though he has decreased his turnover rate each season (22.4 percent turnover rate last season compared to a 16.9 percent assist rate) but will have better shooters around him at Illinois this season. He also gives the Illini some length at point guard on the defensive end, something Tate does not possess.


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