Illini rewind: Take a look back at summer’s biggest Illini headlines


Photo Courtesy of Jordyn Poulter Instagram

Team USA women’s volleyball wins gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Former Illini Jordyn Poulter was part of the winning team at this year’s Olympics.

By Claire O'Brien, Sports Digital Content Editor

Though Illinois’ intercollegiate athletic teams haven’t competed between early June and now, Illinois sports has been very busy over the summer. Here are some of the highlights:

NBA Draft

Former Illinois men’s basketball player Ayo Dosunmu was drafted in the second round of the 2021 NBA draft. His hometown Chicago Bulls drafted him in the second round, and he was the 38th overall pick. The last Illinois player to be drafted in the NBA was Meyers Leonard, who was drafted in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Dosunmu played for Chicago in the NBA Summer League, scoring a summer-high 26 points in the Summer League against the Memphis Grizzlies. He recently signed a two-year contract with the Bulls.

Former Illini men’s basketball player Giorgi Bezhanishvili has been playing for the Denver Nuggets in the Summer League after going undrafted. Kofi Cockburn also declared for the NBA Draft before ultimately deciding to return to Illinois.

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MLB Draft

Two former Illini were drafted in this year’s MLB draft. Andrew Hoffman was drafted in the 12th round by the Atlanta Braves with the 367th overall pick, and Nathan Lavender was drafted by the New York Mets in the 14th round and the 412th pick.


No, not the Instagram trend from several years ago, but The Basketball Tournament. Several former Illinois men’s basketball players — including Andres Feliz, Nnanna Egwu and Brandon Paul — competed for House of ‘Paign. Unfortunately, No. 2 House of ‘Paign lost in the first round of the tournament to 15-seed Jackson TN Underdawgs.


After many years of criticism, the NCAA finally allowed athletes to get paid — kind of. After California passed a bill allowing athletes to receive compensation for name, image and likeness (with the law taking effect Jan. 1, 2023), other states such as Florida passed similar laws that would take effect July 1. Illinois passed a law in May, at the end of the legislative session. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill on June 29 at the State Farm Center, and it took effect two days later.

Bobby Roundtree

Illinois football player Bobby Roundtree was injured in an accident in 2019. He used a wheelchair and shared his rehab journey online and hoped to return to the field. Bobby tragically passed away in July.

Tokyo Olympics

The most prominent sporting event that took place this summer was the Olympic Games. Nine former Illini went to Tokyo.

Former Illinois golfers Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters competed for Belgium at the Olympics. Pieters finished tied for 16th place, while Detry finished T-22.

Former Illini Tyson Bull competed in gymnastics for Australia, finishing in fifth place in the horizontal bar finals.

Alex Diab was an alternate for the USA in gymnastics. He did not compete in Tokyo and was not listed on the Olympics website.

David Kendziera competed in track for the USA, advancing to the semifinals in the 400-meter hurdles. He narrowly missed the cut for the finals.

Rajeev Ram competed in tennis for the USA. He was eliminated in the second round of the men’s doubles tournament, and he was eliminated from the mixed doubles tournament in the opening round.

Jordyn Poulter and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley competed in volleyball for the USA, which won the gold medal. Poulter was named Best Setter and Bartsch-Hackley was named Best Outside Hitter. Former Illinois volleyball player Erin Virtue was an assistant coach on the winning team.



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