Georgetown grad transfer big man Akoy Agau arrived on the Illini campus on Thursday afternoon to begin his official visit.
The 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward is joined by grad transfer guard Mark Alstork, who is also taking a good look at Illinois. The pair could each be impact players on Brad Underwood's roster next season.
Illinois could really use a big man more than anything at this juncture. Agau is a former top-100 recruit who began his career at Louisville. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15 minutes per game last season at Georgetown.
Agau will be immediately eligible, and he could possibly have two years of eligibility if the NCAA grants him a medical hardship waiver from years prior.
Looking at the film
Agau gave the Hoyas productive minutes when he was on the floor. He plays hard and runs the floor extremely well. He is a good athlete but not an explosive one. That being said, you will see Agau get up and down the court before some guards with his long strides and how hard he pushes it end to end. You have to like how he establishes early post position, and he is very comfortable playing around the perimeter too.
Agau definitely gives you some tools to work with in the post. He shows good feet around the basket. He has a very smooth baseline spin that he likes to go to. Another aspect to like is that he can finish with either hand. He's a good passer too when guards cut down the lane or the defense sags off of perimeter shooters. Agau is comfortable playing around the outside as well. He can screen 'n roll, and you even see him exploit some mismatches by taking bigs off the dribble from the top of the key to the basket.
Defensively, Agau would be a huge bonus for the Illini. His long arms and mobile feet make him an active defender around the rim. He knows how to play straight up in the post. And he likes to help off when guards attack to swat them at the bucket. He averaged almost a block per game. You also see him having an ability to play the ball-screen effectively due to his mobility and defensively know-how.
There are some weaknesses to Agau's game. First and foremost, he needs to work on his upper-body strength. There are a number of good moves that he was unable to finish. Some added strength would help him there. He also had a tendency to force some things that weren't there from time to time. And while Agau has the ability to develop his jumper, he was just 3-of-14 from deep last season.
Going Illinois' way
Agau would be a great system fit for Illinois, as Underwood wants to space the floor and play uptempo. And for a guy who was stuck in a poorly-managed rotation last season, the Illini have to be attractive with the playing time on the table.
Agau would come in and be Illinois' best frontcourt defender. He would provide nice rebounding contributions as well. The Illini do not have a true five on their roster. Agau isn't that either, but he would be the closest thing.
Playing time and fit are very important, and Illinois has both to sell.
Going against Illinois
SMU is sizing up to be some stiff competition for the Illini. The Mustangs are without Ben Moore, who played 32 minutes per game last season. They are looking for a veteran presence to replace some of his production, which was more than 11 points and seven rebounds per game.
SMU has two freshmen coming into their frontcourt, but they don't have a whole lot else. It was also announced on Thursday that the Mustangs are losing Semi Ojeleye to the NBA Draft.
Maryland and Northwestern have also been said to be involved.
Chances to land in Champaign
(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest) 5 -- Illinois was a little fearful of SMU's position heading into this visit, but they will do all they can to make their pitch. And they have a good one. The Illini can give him playing time. They can address his physical needs with strength coach Adam Fletcher. And they can also give him a top-notch big man coach in Orlando Antigua. This may come down to being a two-horse race.