Earlier this week, the Illinois Fighting Illini got some exciting news as graduate transfer Adonis De La Rosa announced that he would be joining the program. He made this decision after spending two seasons with Kent State. Prior to that, De La Rosa spent the 2014-’15 season at St. John’s and sat out the next year due to NCAA rules.
During his time with Kent State, he averaged 7.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Standout performances included 24 points and 14 rebounds in a home win against Central Michigan and 20 points and six rebounds in a win over a Buffalo team that ended up beating Arizona in the NCAA Tournament.
The upside of adding De La Rosa is pretty obvious. He’s a 7-footer with experience that can play immediately in the frontcourt. Illinois was extremely thin last season and desperately needed to add depth heading into next season, especially upfront. With recent roster attrition, Illinois had no clear answers in the frontcourt. There’s no debating that De La Rosa helps to answer some of those questions.
Unfortunately, there are also some concerns.
At the onset, De La Rosa suffered an ACL injury at the end of last season and his status remains unclear. One would anticipate that he will be available to play at some point next season, but predicting how quickly any player will recover from an injury like that is akin to trying to predict the weather. It’s always a tricky endeavor.
Moreover, it’s also worth acknowledging that De La Rosa has never played at an elite level. He put up decent numbers in the MAC, but he probably wasn’t even the best player on a team that finished at 17-17 overall in a weak league. Keeping that in mind should temper some expectations heading into next season.
The good news is that Illinois is a lot to gain from this addition and little to lose. The Illini needed help upfront and added a player with size and experience. There are some reasons to not get carried away, but fans should be excited about De La Rosa.