Illini Wonk
Sunday, January 02, 2005
  Dee gets a Grand
On the same day that Illini Wonk receieved it's 1,000th visit, Dee Brown became the 36th player to reach 1,000 points in an Illini uniform. That coincidence pratically begged for IW to take a look back at the basketball career of Dee Brown thus far.

Dee was the most prized recruit of Bill Self's short tenure in Champaign. As a junior in High School, while he was being heavily recruited, Dee averaged 19 points, eight assists, five rebounds and five steals per game to earn First-Team All-State honors from the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. But it was his senior year at Proviso East High School of Maywood, Ill., that infalted expectations in Illini country.

As a senior, Dee averaged 25.6 points, 5.5 assists and 2.9 steals per game en route to earning Mr. Basketball honors in the state of Illinois (Dee was the Illini's ninth Illinois Mr. Basketball since the award began in 1981). Not just the best in Illinois, he was also considered a top recruit nationally., Blue Chip Hoops and All-Star Report all ranked Dee in the top two or three point guards in his class and anywhere from #11 to 19 among all seniors graduating in 2002. He finished his career at Proviso East as the school's all-time leader in points, assists and steals despite attending the same high school that produced three NBA guards.

After only two-and-a-half seasons in the Illini uniform, Dee has met most of those high expectations he created even before arriving in Champaign. He started 31 0f 32 games as a freshman and at 12 points per game was a team second in scoring only to Big Ten player of the year Brian Cook. His 2.56 assist-to-turnover ratio was the best in Big Ten and led to a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection by the media and Third-Team All-Big Ten by Conference coaches. He was also named to first-ever Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

During the summer of 2003, Dee led the USA Basketball Men's National Junior Team in scoring with a 17.3 average and in steals with 19 at the Junior World Championships. He set a U.S. team record with 47 points in 87-84 win over Lithuania.

His stellar freshman season led to numerous pre-season accolades for his sophomore season. The media named him pre-season Big Ten player of the year and the coaches selected him pre-season first-team all-conference. Although his numbers didn't increase enough to keep pace with those lofty accolades, he led the Illini to their first outright Big Ten conference title in 50 years. His 13.3 points per game were good enough for second on his team and 14th in the conference. His 4.5 assists per game were second in the Big Ten only to teammate Deron Williams. He played his best basketball down the stretch, when the Illini overcame a slow start to win their last 11 conference games 15 of their last 17. I will never forget his performance at Penn State when he poured it on in the second half in route to scoring a season-high 24 points, making eight of 13 shots, including six-of-10 from 3-point range.

But, with Dee playing perhaps the best basketball of his career, expectations have been inflated once again. Though the players don't want to discuss it, their performance early in the season will leave fans unsatisfied with anything less than a final four appearance and hoping for their first championship in the hundredth year of the Illinois basketball program. Through the first 14 games, Dee is averaging 13.3 points, 5.4 assists and 1.9 stelas per game while shooting 56 percent from the field, 44 percent from three and 85 percent from the line. He's averaging an incredible 1.5 points per shot.

Dee loves playing basketball for the Illini. In an article by Mark Chalifoux for SportsFan Magazine, Dee said "When I was growing up, when I was in high school, I never thought I’d be on a big stage like this playing basketball," Brown said. "It’s a great atmosphere; it’s the best time of my life."

Dee...we're having the time of our lives watching you.

DEE UPDATE: Mark Tupper has some interesting quotes from Dee on his blog here.
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