In a nutshell, the 2020-21 season was simply weird for the Chicago State men’s basketball team. Less than a week before the first game against Ohio, head coach Lance Irvin opts out of the season due to health concerns. Follow that up with the Chicago State administration shutting the program down after playing all nine non-conference games. The season was shut down because Cougars couldn’t field an entire team due to health issues. By the way, the Cougars were 0-9 in the non-conference slate.
Fast forward eight months. Irvin is no longer the head coach. The Cougars had a lot of turnover. And now first-year head coach Gerald Gillion has the tough task of making Chicago State competitive. And all this in the final season in the WAC for the Cougars.
Xavier Johnson, 5-11, SR, G
Isaiah Lewis, 6-1, RSF, G
Ke’Sean Davis, 6-7, SR, F
Kalil Whitehead, 6’5, SO, F
Rajeir Jones, 6-3, SO, G
Aaris-Monte Bonds, 6-6, JR, F
Lou Demuth, 7-0. FR, C
Teddy Bayi Ba Mandeng, 6-9, JUCO, F
Brandon Betson, 6-1, JUCO, G
Favour Chukwukelu, 6-2, JUCO, G
Jincho Rivera, 6-5, FR, F
Andrew Lewis, 6-2, SR, G
Levelle Zeigler, 6-1, SR, G
Carlo Marble, 6-5, SR, F
Coreyoun Rushin, 6-6, SR, F
Jordan Polynice, 6-6, SR, G/F
Solomon Hunt, 6-9, SR, C
Predicted WAC Finish
There isn’t much to say about the Cougars right now. Gerald Gillion takes over a program that has had a rough go for years. Chicago State’s best year since the new WAC was formed in 2013-14 was that same year. The Cougars won 13 games and went 8-8 in the conference. Since then, the Cougars haven’t had more than six wins in a season. In 2020-21, Chicago State didn’t play a conference game as its season was shut down after nine non-conference games.
There are some pieces, though. Andrew Lewis can score. Jordan Polynice and Solomon Hunt have both been through the ringer on the Southside. And the JUCO transfers Gillion brought in could have an instant impact. It is still so hard to say that Chicago State will be competitive. Nothing against the Cougars because believe me, I am one of their biggest fans in hoping they can find success. But Gillion has a huge task on his hands. It is all about building a culture. This is the final season in the WAC for the Cougars. And hopefully for all parties involved, Chicago State can make some noise in their non-conference slate to help the WAC as a whole.
"𝐈'𝐦 𝐚 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫."@CoachGillion is ready to work.
— Chicago State Athletics (@ChiStateCougars) August 2, 2021
There is limited information out. But, according to one Rocco Miller, Chicago State will travel to Champaign to take on in-state foe Illinois. It’s more than likely that Chicago State will play most of its non-conference slate away from the Jones Convocation Center and load it with P-6 buy games. In 2020-21, Chicago State played Illinois, Northwestern, Loyola University Chicago, Drake, Iowa State and Northern Illinois among others.