Let’s hit the rewind button… as we scroll back to the 2021-2022 season here in North Carolina. Coming into the Hoop State, 2022 Jayden Epps already had the attention of so many at Phenom Hoops (watching him countless other times during travel ball season) and national scouts all around the country. Epps came in and joined Combine Academy, and he quickly showed why he was one of the top prospects in the state and in the country.
He was able to help seal a state championship for Combine Academy, and showed why there was a future star heading to Illinois. At that time, we had this to say:
“He continues to be the go-to leader and isn’t afraid whatsoever of the bright lights; in fact, he lives to be in those pressure moments, and he delivered. Epps has been the go-to scorer for Combine all season long and showed that all weekend long in Rock Hill.”
“Epps is going to be a name you hear quite often and being part of the program at Combine Academy, he is going to give this program even more firepower offensively. Considered one of the top prospects in the class, Epps (who is committed to Illinois) can absolutely fill it up offensively and has done so countless times. He plays with a great motor, is a leader on the floor, and with his strong, playmaking ability, Combine will have some of the best weapons in the country. The smooth shot-making prospect will be a huge part of Combine’s team this season and will be showing just how special he is on several big stages this upcoming season.”
And now, let us fast forward to today, as the Fighting Illini are currently sitting at 16-6 overall and has now won seven of their last eight games. And who has been one of the catalysts? Jayden Epps…
Epps quickly came into the Illinois program and certainly showed that same confidence and toughness that he showed at Combine. But you can see that this young man’s development continues to improve, and he is embracing early on being one of the clear leaders and playmakers on the court.
On the season, Epps is averaging 9.8ppg, 2.1rpg, and 1.6apg, but he has elevated his play in the last month or so when you watch him. He is playing more minutes, his scoring has slightly increased, and he is taking care of the basketball extremely well.
Illinois certainly has weapons in players like Terrence Shannon, Matthew Mayer, and others, but Epps has quietly put together a very impressive freshman season, and this looks to be just the start of a terrific college career.
So buckle up Illini fans!