Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Hoops News

There have been several articles over the past week that were worth a read. The Trib did a feature on former Illini star, Nick Anderson, last week, an article on Kendall Gill's boxing ambition, and has had articles on Dee Brown's NBA pursuit Monday and today. Click on the following to read the articles:

Nick Anderson Feature Story

Kendall Gill's Boxing Pursuit

Dee Brown participates in pre-draft camp at the Moody Bible Institute

A Rift between Brown and Coach Weber?

And to be fair, here are the Sun-Times versions of the Gill article and Brown's efforts to make the NBA:

Kendall Gill in the ring

Dee Brown takes a shot at the NBA

Okay, it has been a while since I last posted so there has been a variety of news that has come out about the draft. Before I discuss Dee's situation, let's cover where the other Illini players stand. First, it appears Deron Williams could go as high as #3 or #4 in the draft. While this is not guaranteed, he has consistently been discussed as a top 4 draft pick in recent weeks and is competing with Chris Paul from Wake Forest to be the first point guard drafted. Utah has a very strong interest in landing one of these two guards. While I have nothing against Utah, it would be nice to see Deron somewhere closer by where we might get to see more of his games on TV. Regardless, this is great for him and certainly is a positive for the Illinois program to have a player projected to go this high in the draft.

Second, Luther Head is trying to play his way in the first round. I beleive that he, Roger Powell, and Dee are all working out at the NBA pre-draft camp at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago this week. Jack Ingram may also be in attendance but I have not heard that for sure. I think Luther has a shot at making it into the end of the first round if he performs well here and at individual team workouts. Again, this would be great for him as well as Illinois. I think Roger is pretty well locked into the second round at best and the same for Ingram. Hopefully, they will both be drafted but if not, they will have to compete for free agent contracts to get their shot.

Finally, this brings us to Dee. Originally, I was not too worried about Dee following through and going to the NBA this season rather than returning to Illinois. However, I am feeling much less certain about Dee's return with each passing day. If you clicked on the last article above, you will see that from his point of view, Dee wishes Coach Weber was being a little more supportive of his NBA pursuit. Having read all of the various newspaper articles over the past few weeks and also having seen Coach Weber be interviewed during the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley a couple weeks ago, I would agree that Coach Weber is not serving as a cheerleader for Dee but I don't think he is being unfair to him either. I think he is being Weber--honest and realistic in his assessment. We can argue about whether this is the right or wrong approach but Weber has always been pretty candid and open about his thoughts. Ultimately though, while I do understand that to some extent there is a conflict of interest, I think Coach Weber truly believes that it would be best for Dee if he were to come back to Illinois for his senior year.

From the article, Dee doesn't sound like his current frustration with Coach Weber would prevent him from going back to Illinois if that is what NBA scouts recommend. However, I just don't like the way this whole thing is progressing. We will see how this plays out--right now I just don't know.

On a side note, I really wish that players and coaches could discuss these issues privately versus airing them in the press.

P.S. Football news. Kisan Flakes, who was projected to be Illinois' backup quarterback this fall has been suspended from the team indefinitely after being arrested on drug related charges. Not a great way to start the summer but glad Coach Zook took swift action and hope he stay tough when it comes to disciplining his players (although I hope we don't have any more players that get themselves into this type of situation!!!).

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