Illinois basketball star Terrence Shannon Jr. has been reinstated to the team and played in Saturday’s game against Rutgers after a judge granted him a temporary restraining order, lifting his suspension by the university following rape charges. Shannon scored 16 points in his return.
Background on the Suspension
Shannon had been suspended since Dec. 23 after authorities in Champaign County approved charges alleging the preseason All-American forced a woman to perform oral sex. He turned himself in on Jan. 18 after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
The suspension came three months after the University of Illinois Police Department initially made head basketball coach Brad Underwood aware of the investigation. However, no action was taken by the school at that time.
Shannon, a redshirt junior who transferred from Texas Tech, was suspended indefinitely on Dec. 23 after charges were filed, with Underwood saying he decided to suspend Shannon because of the “seriousness of the allegations.”
Judge’s Ruling and Return to Play
On Friday, a judge issued a temporary restraining order allowing Shannon to rejoin team activities after his attorney argued that the school violated Shannon’s rights by suspending him without proper procedure.
“The order said Shannon has shown he has a clearly ascertainable right to play basketball after Underwood had previously permitted it,” Champaign County presiding Judge Jason Bohm wrote.
Despite the ruling, Underwood said he would not immediately insert Shannon back into the starting lineup in Saturday’s game, instead bringing him off the bench in a reserve role.
“I will not start him tomorrow,” Underwood said Friday. “He will play a role and contribute off the bench.”
|Returned in Game vs.
|Rutgers on Jan. 21
|6-13 FG, 2-5 3PT
Shannon ended up playing 22 minutes against Rutgers, scoring 16 points on 6-13 shooting (2-5 from three). Though he provided an offensive spark, Illinois’ balanced attack with six players in double figures led the way in an 86-63 victory.
“We don’t really care who scores,” Shannon said after the game. “I just wanted to come out and bring energy to the team.”
What charges is Shannon facing?
Shannon faces three felony counts of sexual assault stemming from an incident that allegedly occurred in August 2022. According to court documents, Shannon is accused of forcing a woman to perform oral sex without consent.
The woman reported the assault took place at Shannon’s apartment and said she tried resisting his advances verbally and physically. She underwent hospital examinations following her report to police.
Shannon has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his attorney maintains the junior guard’s innocence. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
What next in the legal process?
While Shannon is reinstated to basketball activities by the judge’s temporary injunction, the legal battle is just beginning.
Shannon appeared in court in Kansas last week and will need to be in Illinois for his formal arraignment scheduled for March 2. He intends to file a motion to dismiss the charges.
It’s possible more evidence from prosecutors could surface that results in Illinois reversing course on Shannon’s playing status down the road. For now, the Illini are happy to have their second-leading scorer back on the court as they contend for a Big Ten title.
Impact of Shannon’s Return
Getting Shannon back is a huge boost for No. 14 Illinois as they now have their full complement of players available during a critical stretch. The Illini have won six straight games to improve to 5-2 in Big Ten play, one game behind conference leaders Wisconsin and Indiana.
With weapons like veterans Trent Frazier and Coleman Hawkins alongside newcomers Shannon, Terquavion Smith and Matthew Mayer, Illinois owns one of the most potent offenses in the country and showed it by demolishing Rutgers 86-63.
|Illinois Key Stats
|14-5 (5-2 Big Ten)
|Points Per Game
|81.3 (13th in NCAA)
|Opp. Points PG
|66.7 (36th in NCAA)
Shannon adds firepower, rebounding and intensity at both ends. After losing guard Adam Miller to a torn ACL right before the season, getting Shannon’s production back makes the Illini a legitimate Final Four threat.
“It felt good to be back out there with my teammates,” Shannon said after beating Rutgers. “I’d been waiting a long time. I’m grateful that this situation went the way it did.”
The next step for Shannon and Illinois is trying to sweep their season series with Indiana on Thursday. The Hoosiers handed them their only home loss back in December. Now at full strength, can the Illini deliver payback? The Big Ten race hangs in the balance.
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