Tim Connelly Makes It Clear Where He Stands on Terrence Shannon Jr.’s Off-Court Past

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament East Regional-Connecticut vs Illinois
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves made two first round picks Wednesday, on night one of the 2024 NBA Draft, dealing a 2031 1st + a 2030 1st round pick swap to the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 8 overall pick, which they used to take 19-year-old point guard Rob Dillingham, out of Kentucky.

But the most impressive part of PoBO Tim Connelly’s early draft wheeling and dealing was his being able to keep both both of the Wolves’ 2024 picks, one of which he used later on at No. 27 on 6’7″ 215 lb Illinois wing, Terrence Shannon Jr., an NBA ready 23-year-old wing who can make shots, get his own shot, penetrate off the dribble and… play defense.

Terrence Shannon Jr is exactly what the Minnesota Timberwolves needed

This kid fills exactly what the Minnesota Timberwolves are looking for off the bench, and he is expected to get all the opportunity he needs to earn playing time immediately next season.

Shannon Jr. started his collegiate career at Texas Tech, where he played three solid seasons for the Red Raiders, starting 54 games and playing in 83, Terrence averaged 11 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists, on 25 minutes per game while in Lubbock.

But his career trajectory changed significantly once he landed in Champaign, IL, where he spent his final two collegiate seasons. In the Big Ten, as the lead bucket getter for the Illini, Shannon Jr blossomed into an All-American type player, averaging 23 points, 4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, while playing suffocating defense on the other end.

Related: Timberwolves Trade Recent First-Round Draft Selection to Pistons; Swap 2nd Rounders

Want some Big Ten accolades, Terrence Shannon Jr has all of them. He was named All-Big Ten 1st Team both years with the Illini, All-Big Ten Tournament Team in ’23-’24 and Big Ten Tournament MVP. In most cases, it would have been impossible that this kind of talent would have fallen to No. 27, even at the advanced age of 23.

Terrence Shannon Jr.’s battles vs sexual assault allegations

And that would have been the case for Shannon Jr, too… until he was charged with rape and sexual assault in December, stemming back to an alleged incident from September, at a bar in Kansas. When the charges were brought, Terrence was immediately suspended.

After six games sitting out, he sued to get back on the court, citing a violation of his civil rights. He won and the Illini were forced to let him play. Earlier this month, he was fully cleared on all charges. Here is Jay Bilas breaking down the situation Wednesday night during the NBA Draft (transcribed below).

“[Terrence Shannon Jr.] was the type of talent that could be a lottery pick, but he ran into a significant legal difficulty in December. He had a great start to the season, where it was him and Zach Edey for National Player of the Year, and he was cruising to be a first team All-American.

But he was charged in the state of Kansas with with rape and sexual assault, for an incident that allegedly occurred in September, in a Kansas bar. He was immediately suspended by the University of Illinois. He sat out six games, but then he sued in court in Illinois to be reinstated, for a violation of his civil rights.

He was reinstated and began playing again. Then in early June, went to trial on those charges in Kansas. From the very beginning, Terrence Shannon asserted his innocence in this case. He went to trial, he testified in his own defense, which he could have sat on his Fifth Amendment privilege and not testified.

He testified and he was acquitted in early June. So that incident is completely behind him. But from the very beginning, Terrence Shannon asserted his innocence and fought for it, and I thought it was significant that he testified in his own trial. In addition to him testifying, Hunter Dickinson of Kansas testified, so did Kevin McCullough who’s in this draft.”

Jay Bilas on Terrence Shannon Jr.’s legal battles this season in Illinois (ESPN)

Tim Connelly stands behind Terrence Shannon Jr

Here is more information on how everything went down, if you would like to look into it, in greater detail. Obviously, the Minnesota Timberwolves looked under every rock and inside of every crevice, to make sure they were drafting the right guy at No. 27 overall.

Related: Confirmed: Rob Dillingham Will Get Run with Timberwolves Immediately

And in their search, president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly, told reporters after the first round of the draft that the Timberwolves absolutely believe Shannon Jr. is innocent and that they stand behind him, both on and off the court.

“We did. We did a ton [of due diligence on Shannon Jr]. I think it’s a shame that [past criminal charges] are even a footnote. I think it’s a shame to say he was acquitted – I think if you really dig, it’s a really unfortunate thing for a kid, who by all accounts… is a great kid.

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. 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.”

Timberwolves PoBO Tim Connelly on Terrence Shannon Jr’s character and past allegations

Everybody is allowed to have their own opinion on Terrence Shannon Jr., but there is no doubt few people know his background better than Tim Connelly, given how much homework he did on his new rookie, prior to the draft.

It sounds like Tim talked to just about everyone that Shannon Jr. has come across during his 23 years on earth and it doesn’t appear he found much that would stop him from spending the Wolves’ 27th overall pick on him.

Related: Timberwolves Trade Recent First-Round Draft Selection to Pistons; Swap 2nd Rounders

Not only that, but Connelly takes it a step further, painting Shannon Jr. as the victim in the situation, someone who was wrongly accused of a serious crime and nearly lost everything he had worked so hard for, because of it.

Hopefully, he landed in the perfect spot to try and put all that behind him with an organization that is intent on showing their support on a very sensitive matter, even publicly.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: