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ICYMI: Finke and Lucas transferring, Illini add one

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ICYMI: Finke and Lucas transferring, Illini add one

Illinois forward Michael Finke (43) dribbles to the basket during the game against Purdue at the State Farm Center on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

Illinois forward Michael Finke (43) dribbles to the basket during the game against Purdue at the State Farm Center on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois forward Michael Finke (43) dribbles to the basket during the game against Purdue at the State Farm Center on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois forward Michael Finke (43) dribbles to the basket during the game against Purdue at the State Farm Center on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

Redshirt-junior Michael Finke and sophomore guard Te’Jon Lucas announced they will both be transferring from the program on March 26.

Originally from Champaign, Illinois, Finke, the hometown favorite from Centennial High School, has received his degree from the University and will have one year of eligibility left as a graduate transfer.

The announcement comes after months of speculation about several Illinois players leaving the program. Freshman Mark Smith chose to transfer away on March 5 and junior Leron Black opted to go pro on March 15.

Finke was expected to play a big role on the Illinois team for the 2017-18 season. The 6-foot-10 forward got off to a hot start, scoring double digits in five of the teams first six games. Finke ended the season appearing in 28 games, starting 25 while averaging 9.8 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game. He was the team’s third-leading scorer.

Current freshman Greg Eboigbodin is next in line to take Finke’s spot, who played sparingly in his inaugural season. Eboigbodin’s top performance came with 10 points on January 6 at Michigan.

The Illini received a commitment from 6-foot-10 forward Samba Kane from Florida Preparatory Academy and, most recently, 6-foot-9 forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili from St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Both players will be expected to compete for playing time immediately.

While nothing has been officially announced, many are speculating that Finke may choose to join Grand Canyon where his brother Tim, an incoming freshman this fall, is signed.

Lucas, who announced his intention to transfer via Instagram, averaged 5.7 points per game while starting 19 games during his second season in the program. The point guard was one of the team’s better defenders, finishing with the second-most steals on the team. He also led the team in assists per game with 3.2.

Lucas’ best game for the Illini may have been his last when he put up 12 points and dished out eight assists against Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

With the emergence of freshman Trent Frazier and the buzz about incoming five-star freshman Ayo Dosunmo, Lucas’ playing time was at risk of diminishing.

Only two of the Illinois players recruited by former head coach John Groce remain on the roster: Redshirt-sophomore Kipper Nichols and junior Aaron Jordan.

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