Wolves confidently take Terrence Shannon at No. 27 after Illinois star found not guilty in rape case

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves did some extra digging into Terrence Shannon Jr. before the NBA draft.

They found plenty of sources vouching for his character, bolstering their confidence in a dynamic player whose final season at Illinois was overshadowed by a rape charge he was recently exonerated of.

“The off-court reputation is sterling. Talk to the coaches at Texas Tech. Talk to the coaches at Illinois. They don’t say good things. They say amazing things,” Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said Wednesday night after taking Shannon with the 27th overall pick in the first round. “Obviously he was on the wrong end of a really unfortunate situation, and his ability to play through that and play winning basketball for a great coach in Brad Underwood — we just think he brings toughness.”

Shannon was found not guilty two weeks ago after a jury in Douglas County, Kansas, spent less than two hours deliberating the verdict. He was accused of sexual assault last September during a visit to Kansas for a football game between the Illini and the Jayhawks.

Connelly said the Timberwolves “did a ton” of background work on Shannon with an interest in his experience, fortitude and scoring ability from anywhere on the court.

“Oftentimes, the minute you’re accused you’re found guilty. Thankfully he went the legal process. He chose to go to trial because he knew he did nothing wrong,” Connelly said. “I just think it’s a shame he went through that, and I think it’s a testament to who he is as a kid and his ability to play through a really tough distraction.”

The 6-foot-6 Shannon, who turns 24 next month, can play both guard positions. He started his college career at Texas Tech before transferring to Illinois, leading the Illini to the Elite Elight in the NCAA Tournament before a loss to eventual national champion Connecticut. Shannon was voted first-team All-Big Ten and a third-team All-American by The Associated Press and was the Big Ten Tournament MVP for his performance in March at Target Center in Minneapolis, where he’ll now have his home games as a pro.

“I think he’s a three-position defender. I think he’s an unbelievably competitive guy. He’s got size. Another downhill guy who’s going to play with pace,” Connelly said.

The Timberwolves were elated to get Shannon as a complement to Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham, whom they jumped in to trade for at No. 8 overall through a trade with San Antonio. The Western Conference runners-up could not have had a more productive draft night, considering they’re in no position to enhance the roster through trades or free agency with their salary-cap situation and desire to keep the core of the team together.

“You don’t take those two guys thinking how they’re going to match up together, but our challenge was to try to play a little bit faster in our second unit,” Connelly said, “and I think we got two of the fastest and most athletic and aggressive guys in the draft.”


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