The 1920–21 season began a new era for the Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball team. New head coach Frank Winters was coming to the University of Illinois after 5 very successful years as head coach of Rockford Central High School in Rockford, Illinois. During his tenure in Rockford, he guided his Rabs teams to three round of 16 finishes, one quarterfinals finish and one team finished their season as state champions. Unfortunately, Winters inherited a team whose best player, Chuck Carney, had just severely injured his knee in the last football game. Nonetheless, the team went on to an overall record of 11–7. The Big Ten record for the Illini, at the conclusion of the 1920–21 season would be seven wins five losses and a tie for fourth place. The starting lineup included All-AmericanChuck Carney, Lawrence Walquist, and Norton Hellstrom at forward, Henry Reitsch at center, and Charles Vail, John Sabo and Walter Collins as guards.