Ex-Illinois star Terrence Shannon addresses 'real serious' sexual assault allegations ahead of trial, NBA Draft

Content warning: This article contains depictions of alleged sexual assault.

Former Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. addressed the sexual assault allegations against thim for the first time on Tuesday while at the NBA Draft combine.

While he didn’t get into specifics about the allegations against him and the upcoming sexual assault trail he’s facing next month, Shannon said he knows how “serious” the situation is.

"Obviously, it's a real serious accusation and I'm aware of that, and I can't go much into detail about it, but I'm just focused on what I can control and that's basketball and what I do on the court, in the weight room, with my family," he said, via WCIA.

Shannon is accused of groping and sexually assaulting a woman in a crowded bar near Kansas' campus on Sept. 8, when he was in town for the Jayhawks' football game against Illinois. The woman reported the incident to police the following day, and she visited a local hospital for sexual assault examination.

Shannon has denied the accusations repeatedly since then, and his lawyers pointed to the lack of witness testimony and very clear surveillance evidence as “the alleged incident occurred in a very public bar” while doing so.

Illinois suspended Shannon indefinitely on Dec. 28 after an arrest warrant was issued. He was granted a temporary restraining order that forced Illinois to reinstate him less than a month later, however, and he returned to finish out the season with the Illini. He received some criticism from opposing fans, but he got the Illini to the Elite Eight while both he and the program largely stayed quiet about his legal case.

"I've said many times, I'm a college basketball coach," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said during the NCAA tournament. "When we found out, it was our athletic director Josh Whitman that informed me. Then it was a decision that was made by the university, and then obviously taken to the courts, and I've said all along I was going to coach the guys I had in the locker room. I was going to be the best supporter of those guys that I coach every day. We had to find a way to flourish through those tough times.

"Then he came back and joined us, he was a part of our team again. He has always been a great teammate. We got him back, and here we sit today."

Shannon entered a not guilty plea at a hearing last week in Kansas. He is set to stand trial next month.

"I'm looking forward to my day in court," Shannon said simply on Tuesday, via ESPN.

Shannon averaged 23 points and four rebounds per game last season at Illinois. Yahoo Sports' Krysten Peek has him going at No. 21 overall in the NBA Draft next month. His trial is expected to be finished by the draft.

While the case is still hanging over him months later as he prepares, Shannon insists that he’s “fine” mentally. He’s trying to ignore it all as best he can.

"I feel like people are going to have their opinion of me no matter what," Shannon said, via ESPN. "No matter what you're going through or if you're not going through anything, you can't let other people's opinions affect you."

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