Terrence Shannon Jr. understands seriousness of rape charge

In his first public comments ahead of his June sexual assault trial, former Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. said Tuesday during the NBA draft combine that he understands the "serious" charges against him.

Shannon, once projected as a first-round pick, is being scrutinized as a potential NBA prospect, which could depend on the outcome of his June 10 trial for felony rape and felony aggravated sexual assault charges. Last year, a woman accused Shannon of sexually penetrating her with his fingers at a bar in Lawrence, Kansas.

Shannon was arrested, charged and suspended by Illinois amid a school investigation in December. After missing six games, however, Shannon received a temporary restraining order from a federal judge and returned to the court for the rest of the season. The school dropped its investigation in April.

"I'm looking forward to my day in court," he said.

A Kansas judge decided last week at Shannon's preliminary hearing that there is sufficient probable cause for Shannon to stand trial. Shannon entered a not guilty plea at the hearing.

On Tuesday, Shannon said he's invested in the NBA draft process and the work attached to it. At the combine, Shannon added that he's the best "two-way" player in the draft.

"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 told WCIA in Champaign, Illinois.

The accuser in the case found Shannon through a Google search after the incident and then told local police, who then filed a warrant for Shannon's arrest in December.

At the time, Shannon was a projected first-round pick in next month's NBA draft. His lawyers said his June rape trial will conclude before the draft on June 26-27.

Before Shannon's preliminary hearing last week, his attorneys requested that the DNA evidence in the case not be admissible in the trial. They also said, via statement, the judge ruling that the trial will move forward has no bearing on Shannon's guilt or innocence in the case.

Shannon said he can't control people's opinions of him, as he faces serious charges. He also said he's "fine" mentally.

"I feel like people are going to have their opinion of me no matter what," Shannon said Tuesday. "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."