Illini Wonk
Thursday, July 21, 2005
  Illinois NBA update
You have to see this video of Deron Williams in the NBA summer league playing against the Dallas Mavericks. A steal followed by a coast-to-coast behind the back layup. His performance in the game (19 points, 5 steals, 3 assists, 2 rebounds in 28 minutes) drew rave reviews from DraftExpress.

It would also appear that the Rockets are very happy with Luther Head even though his review at DraftExpress was not particularly glowing.

In his final game of NBA Summer League play, Roger Powell had 14 points on 5-6 shooting along with two rebounds and an assist. He averaged almost 5 points and shot better than 77 percent for the five games.
Monday, July 18, 2005
  Illini news bits
There's a lot of little pieces of news on the Illinois basketball program, so Illini Wonk decided to serve them up in bite-size pieces.

Illinois' BIG recruit

According to Mark Tupper, Illinois basketball recruit Brian Carwell has done some growing prior to his senior year in high school and is on track to checking in at close to 7 feet when he arrives at Illinois. The article includes an update on the feet of James Augustine and Dee Brown.

Deron Williams signs, starts?

Williams signed a contract with the Utah Jazz that is reportedly $7 million for the first two years with Utah holding options on years three and four. Also, the Jazz are apparently going to put him into the starting lineup.

Weber sticks around

Illinois basketball came to terms with coach Bruce Weber on a two-year contract extension for Weber that increases his pay to $700,000 per season. Learning from their last two coaches, Illinois will make payments into an annuity that will pay Weber $1.1 million if he is the Illini coach on April 30, 2011. Weber will be signing books today in Peoria.

NBA News

The Reverand Roger Powell says it's a blessing to be on the Mavericks summer squad...Speaking of the NBA summer league, Luther Head hit three of four three-point attempts and scored 17 points in the win over the Timberwolves...
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
  Support your local blog
You may have noticed (even if you don't care) that Illini Wonk has added some advertising on the right-hand column of this blog. It's not making enough money for me to quit my day job (not even close), but I am using the few funds that come in to gather more news on Illini basketball.

In the past, funds have been used on subscriptions to Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, etc. In the future, Illini Wonk will use the funds to subscribe to things like, ESPN Insider and Illinois Hoops Magazine.

So, if you're interested, there are three ways to help Illini Wonk:
  1. Make a donation through the Amazon Honor System
  2. Place an ad on Illini Wonk
  3. Visit the sponsors.

Obviously, the third option is the least painful and doesn't require any sacrifice on your part. If you're looking for an NBA jersey or Illini Final Four Gear, just make sure you click the link from Illini Wonk. You can do it assured that whatever you contribute will be used to make this a more informed site. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
  Illinois basketball recruiting news
There are a lot of little bites of news on Illinois basketball recruiting and Illini Wonk is the place to bring them all together in one update.

Picking up on a theme that Illini Wonk posted yesterday, Gregg Doyel of CBS Sportsline writes in his Ten for Tuesday, that Illinois is trying to sell the state's best three high school guards -- senior Sherron Collins, juniors Alex Gordon and Derrick Rose -- on the idea of becoming an even better version of Deron Williams-Dee Brown-Luther Head. (Although he must be referring to Eric Gordon of Indianapolis, rather than Alex, and I'm not too sure about better).

Illinois Hoops has offered a free look at their June issue, which has Sherron Collins on the cover and an interview with Illini-bound Brian Carwell (click here for the PDF).

Illinois Prep Bulls-eye is loaded with coverage of the recently concluded NIKE All-American Camp. In rating the Top Back Court Performers, the Schmidts list Collins in a tie for second best and Derrick Rose right behind him at #4. In another article, they give details of Collins' performance and also provided details on his recruiting (and that of Rose). Rose also received an impressive SPARQ Basketball Rating during the camp and some spotted Wayne McClain.

Chicago Hoops said that Collins' strong showing at the Nike All-America Camp has solidified his spot as one of the hottest recruits in the United States.
Monday, July 11, 2005
  Three Amigos Part Dos at Illinois?
Yesterday, Illini Wonk brought you news of Sherron Collins leaning toward Illinois. Wonk also mentioned that Derrick Rose would look more favorably on the Illini if Collins committed. Now it apears that a third prep guard standout might like to make it a trio.

Jeff Rabjohns was at ABCD Camp in New Jersey and reports in the Indianapolis Star that Illinois still leads for Gordon. Rabjohns is talking about Eric Gordon, the Indianapolis North Central junior shooting guard who shared MVP honors among the underclassmen at the Adidas Superstar camp near Atlanta.

Here's the relevant section of his ABCD Camp Notes:

Gordon said the University of Illinois is still his favorite, and word at the ABCD camp was that the Illini want him as the centerpiece to another set of guards similar to the trio of Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head that led them to the national title game.

In addition to Gordon, Illinois is recruiting 5-10 point guard Sherron Collins of Chicago Crane, and 6-2 Derrick Rose of Chicago Simeon.Collins graduates in 2006, Gordon and Rose in 2007. Gordon is ranked No. 10 in his recruiting class, Rose No. 2, and Collins No. 16.

Gordon said he likes the idea of playing with Rose and Collins."Oh, yeah. You could do a combination of everything, and that's what I'd like to do," Gordon said. "And the guards control the game. That's why I like Illinois that much."

Gordon said his list of colleges has expanded to Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame, Kentucky and Duke.

Could it be Three Amigos Part Dos? I know it's WAY TOO EARLY to be talking about this (since the Illini have a grand total of zero commitments from the three), but all three standout guards are saying that Illinois is either in the lead or near the top and they all say that they'd like to play together. Is it too early to start dreaming?

Brett Dawson has more on Illinois recruits from the Nike Camp on his blog.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
  The next Dee Brown?
Is this the picture of the next Dee Brown? Mark Tupper interviewed Sherron Collins at the Nike All-America Camp in Indianapolis on Thursday and thinks that just might happen. This "must have" recruit for the Illinois Fighting Illini said he will have a list of schools next month and when asked where Illinois fit on the list, Collins replied "They fit at the top."

There is a long line of coaches after Collins, including Bill Self at Kansas. Eric Bossi at wrote a glowing review of Collins' play at the Nike Camp. Gregg Doyel of CBS wrote Collins is emerging as a challenger to North Carolina recruit Tywon Lawson as the best point guard in the Class of 2006. Collins is the top-rated prep prospect in Illinois and ranked No. 11 nationally by

This would be another huge recruiting win for Bruce Weber and , according to Tupper, it might lead to others. Chicago Simeon's Derrick Rose said a commitment from Collins might improve his chances of picking Illinois.

Add these good pieces of news to the recently committed Brian Carlwell, and Illinois basketball recruiting looks poised to build on their historic run to the Final Four.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
  The Reverend Roger Powell

Roger Powell, Jr. has been signed to the NBA developmental summer league team of the Dallas Mavericks. In his first game, the reverend managed two points, one rebound, one block, one assist and four fouls in 11 minutes. No word from Mark Cuban yet on Powell's chances of making the squad.

UPDATE: In his second game, Powell made one of three free throws for one point in four minutes of play.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
  Luther Head's NBA Draft Night
We all saw Deron Williams on NBA Draft night. He was the third player to stride across the stage and shake David Stern's hand. But, when Luther Head's name was called with the 24th pick, many of us couldn't help wondering where he was. Now, thanks to the Chicago Defender, we know that Head was in Lawndale, right where he wanted to be – with his peeps.

When his name was called, Head, or "Boo" as his mother calls him, emerged from upstairs in tears as at least two dozen family and friends erupted into a frenzy in the Lawndale neighborhood. That's an image Illini Wonk would have much rather seen on TV.

Illini Wonk doesn't often editorialize on this blog, but I've rarely been happier for a member of the Illini than when Luther's name was called in the first round of the NBA Draft. Luther has come through so much and at the end, he might have become my favorite Illinois basketball player of all-time. And now, according to the Chicago Tribune he's signed an NBA contract. Congratulations, Luther. You deserve it.
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