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Draft your team of Illinois Basketball All-Stars for a simulation against 2005 North Carolina

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Welcome to TCR’s discussion thread for the week of June 12.

North Carolina Tar Heels v Illinois Fighting Illini Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Welcome to TCR’s first discussion thread! As mentioned in a previous blog post, we’re making an effort to provide you with community-centered content moving forward. These spaces will be pinned below our front page for a week at a time, and they’ll act as a place for general conversations related to Illinois Athletics.

This particular version is themed, and we’ll be updating it with more content in a few days!


Monday, June 12

Have you ever come across those $15 fantasy team posts on social media? You probably have at some point. They’re mostly bad. This time, though? This time will be different.

I’ve gone ahead and compiled a set of 25 former Fighting Illini basketball stars, each with a corresponding value ranging from $1-5. Using a budget of $15, your goal is to pick the best group of players possible! You’ll select two guards, a small forward, a power forward, and a center.

Later in the week, we’ll add another wrinkle to this thought experiment. WhatIfSports’ simulation engine will be utilized to pit a few submissions up against the 2005 North Carolina team; the objective is to defeat the Tar Heels by as many points as possible, obviously. I’m still brainstorming the exact format, but I plan on simulating our favorite rosters five times each while recording the average point differentials. It’ll be a fun competition.

Note: Unfortunately, the only Illinois teams in their system are 1988-89 and 1999-2016. That means a few of the below players can’t be replicated in our fight against evil. Apologies for that inconvenience. Even so, we can still discuss some of those hypotheticals if/when they come up.

So, without further adieu, here are the former Illinois players that you can choose from. Make sure to drop down to the comments to share your selections and give some reasoning behind your budget! You can also bash the value designations, I guess.

Point Guards & Shooting Guards (x 2)

VALUE PLAYER PLAYER
VALUE PLAYER PLAYER
$5 Bruce Douglas Dee Brown
$4 Deron Williams Kendall Gill
$3 Kiwane Garris Corey Bradford
$2 Frank Williams Luther Head
$1 Demetri McCamey Brandon Paul

Small Forwards (x1)

VALUE PLAYER
VALUE PLAYER
$5 Nick Anderson
$4 Nick Weatherspoon
$3 Eddie Johnson
$2 Malcolm Hill
$1 Kenny Battle

Power Forwards (x1)

VALUE PLAYER
VALUE PLAYER
$5 Deon Thomas
$4 Brian Cook
$3 Ken Norman
$2 Roger Powell
$1 Mike Davis

Centers (x1)

VALUE PLAYER
VALUE PLAYER
$5 James Augustine
$4 Efrem Winters
$3 Derek Holcombe
$2 Meyers Leonard
$1 Nnanna Egwu

Wednesday, June 14

Vainisi: My lineup was designed with one goal in mind — contain Carolina’s post players. I’m willing to give up any and all low post scoring to achieve this, which means my guards have to pick up the slack on the other end. Here was the end result:

Guard - Dee Brown ($5)
Guard - Frank Williams ($2)
Forward - Nick Anderson ($5)
Forward - Roger Powell ($2)
Center - Nnanna Egwu ($1)

Frank Williams has been a popular pick at $2, and honestly, I think he’s probably the biggest steal out of all the players included. He was a great all-around playmaker, and I feel he’d be the perfect compliment alongside Dee Brown and Nick Anderson. Nnanna Egwu may not be the strongest center around, however he’s one of the most talented defensive players in program history. Lastly, Roger Powell received a starting nod due to his rebounding.

Birkhead: I started by going with a couple of players I think had great value with Kenny Battle and Frank Williams. Since that was only $3 could go for two $5. Augustine because he's so much better than any other center we've had and Dee Brown because Dee Brown is the god damn man. Then I was left with Roger Powell.

Guard - Dee Brown ($5)
Guard - Frank Williams ($2)
Forward - Kenny Battle ($1)
Forward - Roger Powell ($2)
Center - James Augustine ($5)

Repplinger: To beat UNC, we need two things. Points in the last 3 minutes, and someone to defend against Sean May. Thomas and Egwu are the top two blockers in program history, so that should neutralize May in the post.

Thomas, Garris, and Hill are the top three scorers in program history, and combined they need 3 baskets in the last 3 minutes of the game to beat the Tar Heels. I've also got Corey Bradford starting as our best three point shooter in program history, and McCamey coming off the bench as the program's 5th best 3 point shooter to boot. I'd fully expect that offense to make up a four point deficit in 3 minutes without a problem.

Guard - Kiwane Garris ($3)
Guard - Corey Bradford ($3)
Forward - Malcolm Hill ($2)
Forward - Deon Thomas ($5)
Center - Nnanna Egwu ($1)
Extra/6th Man - Demetri McCamey ($1)

Bourbon: Davis and Augustine provide two guys inside that flirted with averaging double digit rebounds in their careers to lock down the paint, and would complement each other nicely offensively with Davis working out of the high post.

Deron can be the primary distributor while Hill offers some secondary ball handling and creativity toward the end of the shot clock. Cory Bradford will be flying off a flurry of screens hunting three-pointers (a tidy 38.8-percent shooter from deep).

Of course all of this is a moot point if the refs foul out Augustine in nine minutes of play. Can I spend a dollar to have an evenly officiated game?

Guard - Deron Williams ($4)
Guard - Cory Bradford ($3)
Forward - Malcolm Hill ($2)
Forward - Mike Davis ($1)
Center - James Augustine ($5)


Friday, June 14

The simulations against 2005 North Carolina will hopefully be up by the end of the day. I’ve run into a bit of trouble on WhatIfSports because it turns out you need to create a full roster of 12 players — and you’re not able to modify the minute allocations.

Luckily, the site gives each player some sort of ‘sim value’, and I’m going back through Illinois’ past rosters to find players that match Carolina’s bench. Wish me luck!