Terrence Shannon Jr. has hearing pushed back to May

A preliminary hearing in the criminal case against Illinois guard Terrence Shannon Jr. has been pushed back to May, likely clearing the decks for his ability to play out the season for the No. 10 Illini.

That hearing, originally scheduled for Feb. 23, is now slated for May 10. An attorney for Shannon said the court in Douglas County, Kan., had a scheduling conflict. Shannon is accused of felony rape in Lawrence, Kan.

Shannon returned to the team Sunday against Rutgers after a federal court granted him a temporary restraining order last week that allowed him to play while awaiting the outcome of his case due to the presumption of innocence. The university suspended Shannon last month after he was charged with rape stemming from an incident in September.

News of the hearing change comes the same day that Illinois released a statement, saying in part that Illinois coach Brad Underwood had nothing to with Shannon’s suspension nor his return to the team.

The statement from Associate Chancellor Robin Kaler was meant to address “certain questions that have arisen following the ruling.”

“The nature of the allegations in this case elevated related discipline decisions beyond Coach Brad Underwood’s purview,” the statement said. “He was not involved in the suspension decision, nor in the decision to reinstate. In keeping with the Court’s directive, Coach Underwood was instructed to treat Mr. Shannon as he would any other member of the team in good standing and not limit participation based on the involved allegations.”

Underwood opted against starting Shannon in Illinois’ 23-point win over Rutgers. Shannon came off the bench to score 16 points in 28 minutes. Underwood said he didn’t want to “upset the apple cart” of continuity the team had achieved in Shannon’s absence, during which the Illini went 4-2.

Shannon, a senior from Chicago, leads the Fighting Illini with an average of 21.3 points per game in 12 games.

Illinois (14-4, 5-2 Big Ten) plays at Northwestern (13-5, 4-3) on Wednesday night.