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Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. granted ruling from judge that could allow him to play

FILE - Illinois' Terrence Shannon Jr. brings the ball down the court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, in St. Louis. Shannon filed a temporary restraining order Monday, Jan 8, 2024, against the university in an effort to be reinstated after being suspended indefinitely following a rape charge stemming from an alleged incident that happened when the football team played at Kansas in September. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
Terrence Shannon Jr. took Illinois to court, and the judge ruled in his favor. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Illinois guard Terrence Shannon Jr. took his team to court after he was suspended in the wake of a rape charge against him. On Friday, he was granted a ruling that could allow him to play for the team again.

Shannon was suspended from Illinois' basketball team on Dec. 28, when he was arrested on rape charges in Kansas. His four attorneys claimed that the program ignored due process, and the All-America candidate pursued legal action against the university for the "rush to judgment."

The move was successful, as Judge Colleen R. Lawless ruled in favor of Shannon's motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) Friday afternoon. The decision came less than 24 hours after he made his first appearance in front of the Douglas County judge and officials from the county District Attorney’s office via Zoom.

In the ruling, Judge Lawless said Shannon would "suffer irreparable harm without an injunction." She went on to declare that the suspension's potential harm to Shannon outweighs any harm the university could face.

The university will now be unable to maintain Shannon's suspension without affording him the protections of the Office of Student Conflict Resolution policy. To that effect, the university issued a statement saying that "Shannon has been reinstated to full status as a university student-athlete and will be available for basketball practice and competition."

But this doesn't mean Shannon will return to the court immediately — or at all.

Illinois had the option to either immediately reinstate him to the basketball team or pay him for the damages caused by his suspension. That said, the team could still choose to not give him playing time.

Considering that the fifth-year senior was leading a list of early stock risers for the 2024 NBA Draft just last month, it seems possible that Illinois will opt to play him. He was averaging 21.7 points per game and shooting above 40% from 3-point range.

Shannon's availability could change as the case continues. The alleged incident occurred at a busy Lawrence bar, late on the night of a Sept. 8 Illinois vs. Kansas football game. Shannon is facing one charge of rape, sexual intercourse without consent and use of force.

His preliminary hearing is set to take place Feb. 23.