New Kid on the Court Makes a Splash in Illini Scrimmage

Basketball season hit Chicago yesterday with a bang, generic with the Bulls taking down the Cavs with a two-point win and President Obama’s motorcade messing with traffic during rush hour to get down to the United Center.

But before the Bulls kicked things off at the UC in Chicago, the Illini tipped off earlier in the week at the other UC — the Ubben court in Champaign. The men’s basketball team hosted what they called the #IlliniALLIN team scrimmage in front of a small crowd on Sunday in their practice facility.

Check out this post-event video put together by the fine folks of Fighting Illini Athletics.


Those in attendance have been raving about a new face on the team, transfer graduate student Mike Thorne Jr., who joined the orange and blue is year from Charlotte. Take a look at the rave review from the News-Gazette.

Taking a look at the scrimmage’s box score, the numbers tell the story. Thorne had a team-high 15 points, tallied one assist and racked up some blocked shots.

Four more things to know about Thorne:

  • He’s 6’11” and weighs 270
  • He was Charlotte’s third leading scorer, averaging 10.1 points per game
  • He led his team in rebounding, averaging a little over 7 rebounds per game
  • He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and is enrolled at Illinois in master’s program in education policy, organization and leadership

We’ll all just have to wait and see if the hype on Thorne from an ultimately meaningless, Illini-on-Illini battle carries through when it’s the real thing, but it is nice to have a glimmer of hope for the season when it this injury-riddled Illinois squad.

About the author: Heather Punke. NCAA Basketball Correspondent. Heather is a Chicago transplant by way of Minnesota and Champaign, Ill. Even though she now resides in Wrigleyville, she still cheers for the Twins and the MN Wild, as well as her beloved Fighting Illini and whoever is on her fantasy football team that week. Heather earned a broadcast journalism degree from the University of Illinois and reported on Big Ten athletics during her time there. Now managing editor for a healthcare magazine, she is also a hedgehog owner and a competitive euchre player. You can follow her on Twitter at @hpunke

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