Illini Wonk
Friday, February 03, 2006
  It's Good to be Dee

How does a team that lost two first round NBA draft picks and a CBA All-Star remain in the top ten of every national poll, become the first NCAA team with 20 wins and stand atop the toughest conference in the country? There are lots of reasons, but one of the biggest is Dee Brown.

His successful transition to the point guard this season is one of the most important factors in Illinois' success. Early in the season, some were questioning whether or not he could make the move, but he has proven the doubters wrong.

He served notice to the Big Ten in the opening conference game when he poured in a career high 34 points on 12-22 shooting. He followed that up with a couple of shaky shooting performances on the road in two Illini losses and a big game at home against Michigan. Since then, he has been instrumental in Illinois' run at a third consecutive conference title.

His numbers in conference play are impressive. He's carrying an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.4:1 and averaging three rebounds and nearly two steals per contest. Brown has led the Illini in scoring in half of those eight conference games while averaging 16.8 points. He doesn't spend much time on the bench, either. Brown has played 309 out of a possible 320 minutes in Big Ten games thus far.

In the Big Ten Conference individual basketball statistics, Brown is ranked in the top ten for scoring (10), assists (2), steals (5), three-pointers made (4), assist-to-turnover ratio (4) and minutes played (4).

Brown's solid play is turning some heads.'s Pat Forde named Brown the hottest player in the Big Ten, writing 'There is no bigger gamer in college basketball.' Brown is among the Midseason Top 30 Candidates for the John R. Wooden Award and one of the 16 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award (fans can vote for their favorite candidates on the Cousy Award web site).

Mike Nadel of the Peoria Journal Star feels compelled to point out that Brown's success at the college level will mean diddly-squat in the NBA. One NBA scout who was at the Wisconsin game might take issue. This scout told Bruce Weber that Brown is so much better at angles, penetration and creating for other people.' " In addition, DraftExpress has Brown going 28th in their 2006 Mock Draft.

Dee Brown has at least ten games left in his Illinois basketball career. If he plays like he is now, it might be several more than that. One thing is for certain: the Illini have been extremely fortunate to have him for four years.
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