Illinois Basketball

University of Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. addresses legal issues in advance of NBA Draft

Chicago product faces felony rape charge in June

NBC Universal, Inc.

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Most of the prospects at this week’s NBA Draft Combine are answering questions about their ideal team fit and what strengths they possess that will translate to the next level.

That’s not University of Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr.’s current reality.

“I have a trial June 10. That will be the deciding factor,” Shannon Jr. said Tuesday, when asked if he’s even confident he’ll be playing in the league next season. “But I’m looking forward to my day in court.”

Shannon Jr., the third-leading scorer in the NCAA last season, is unquestionably a first-round talent. But in his first public comments since December 22, the Lincoln Park High School product fielded questions about his legal saga stemming from an alleged incident on Sept. 9, 2023, for which Shannon Jr. was arrested and charged with rape.

After a six-game suspension, Shannon Jr. and his legal team prevailed in a federal case to have his team suspension overturned. Shannon Jr. returned to lead Illinois to the Big Ten Tournament title and Elite Eight appearance, but he now must stand trial on a first-degree felony rape charge following a preliminary hearing last week in Kansas.

The alleged incident occurred at a café when Shannon Jr. attended Illinois football game at Kansas.

“This has been a very interesting process I would say,” Shannon Jr. said.

Shannon Jr. isn’t participating in the on-court portion of this week’s predraft activities because he said he strained his hamstring. But he will meet with multiple teams this week as part of the off-court portion that all prospects undergo for their potential future employers.

Asked what he’d like to convey to team executives, Shannon Jr. paused for a long time before answering.

“Just what kind of person I am. I feel like I’m a good kid, funny. I make sure everybody is good and I just take care of everybody around me,” he said. “I feel like I bring intensity and with the intensity, really high character.

“I compete at the highest level and I'm never going to take no days off. I'm a hard worker and I'm willing to do whatever for any team. Whatever they need me to do, I'm willing to do it."

Shannon Jr. said the support of his teammates, coaches and family have sustained him as he navigates his ongoing legal process. Asked what the hardest part has been, Shannon Jr. cited the Elite Eight loss to eventual national champion University of Connecticut.

“My teammates, my coaches, my family, they’ve been there for me, as they’ve always been. If I need to talk or anything, they were there. And I thank them for that,” Shannon Jr. said. “They’ve been a good support system for me.

“As long as I’m getting to play basketball, I’m happy. Just being out there with my brothers and having Coach Brad (Underwood) coach me, I was happy. I was feeding into my teammates and the crowd. (The tournament run) was fun.”

Shannon Jr. dealt with opposing crowds taunting him during Illinois’ run.

“I just feel like with things like that you have to let your game speak for itself,” he said. “There are going to distractions everywhere no matter if you got something going on or not. You just gotta learn how to tune everything out and focus on the game.”

His trial is set for roughly two weeks before the June 26-27 NBA Draft. As he waits to hopefully live out his dream, Shannon Jr. insists he’s in a good place mentally.

“I’m perfectly fine mentally. I just focus on what I can control, working every day, putting in the work to live my goal and earn my dream to be in the NBA,” he said. “I feel like people are going to have their opinion on you no matter what. You can’t let other people’s opinions affect you.”

Click here to follow the Bulls Talk Podcast.

Contact Us