Illini Coaches Expect Jacob Grandison to be Available for NCAA Opener

Barring a drastic change of circumstances, Illinois coaches are expecting senior forward Jacob Grandison (shoulder) to play Friday in the NCAA Tournament first round game vs. Chattanooga. 

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Staff Writer

March 17, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)

PITTSBURGH -- Unless there is a drastic different set of circumstances, Jacob Grandison is expecting to be active when Illinois opens NCAA Tournament play.

The senior forward has been held out of Illinois’ last two games (74-72 win vs. Iowa, 65-63 loss vs. Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament) after suffering a several shoulder injury late in the Illini’s 60-55 victory over Penn State at State Farm Center on March 3.

After colliding with a Penn State player on a fast break late in the second half of the March 3 game, Grandison was seen telling teammates, assistant coaches and Illini staff member Tyler Underwood that he instantly thought he dislocated his shoulder but an examination by the program’s medical staff showed just a severe contusion.

Grandison was seen wearing a protective sling on his left arm during the regular season finale vs. Iowa, the Big Ten Tournament game vs. Indiana and the NCAA Tournament selection show gathering on Sunday. Grandison, who arrived at Illinois three years ago as a transfer from Holy Cross, made the trip with the team Wednesday afternoon and took part in the public practice today at PPG Paints Arena with the rest of the team.  He is expected to be active when the Illini face Southern Conference champion Chattanooga Friday evening (5:50 p.m. CST, TNT).

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said Sunday Grandison was “progressing” through this latest injury news hitting the Illini program but wouldn’t publicly commit to the 6-foot-6 wing being medically cleared for the NCAA Tournament. Illinois has had nine different starting lineups this season, second-most among high-major conference teams. Illinois rotation players have missed a combined 61 games so far this season.

Grandison, who finished the 2021-22 season fourth on the Illinois roster in scoring at 10.3 points per game and rebounding at four per game. The versatile forward has started 39 of 58 games the last two years and is seen as a vital veteran piece to the Illini (22-9) making a deep run in this 2022 NCAA Tournament. Grandison set his scoring high at Illinois with 24 points in the win at Michigan State (Feb. 19), tying his career high with six three-pointers. Grandison is currently shooting 41 percent from beyond the three-point arc and is fourth on the team in assists at 2.4 per game. He has totaled 1,163 points in his college career, making him one of four players on the current Illini roster who have reached the 1,000-point milestone during their college career.

Grandison is one of 10 players on its roster with previous game experience in the NCAA Tournament experience along with Kofi Cockburn, Andre Curbelo, Trent Frazier, Da’Monte Williams as players who played both games of last year’s postseason run.

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