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Greatest Illini Men’s Basketball Player Ever Tournament: Deron Williams Region Round of 32

Vote here for the Round of 32!

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The Champaign Room continues its quest to determine the Greatest Illinois Men’s Basketball Player of all time with the Deron Williams Region Round of 32 today! You guys have already decided on Deon Thomas’ Sweet 16 Region, and now it’s time to preview the matchups in the Deron Williams portion.

We will preview each matchup, and the polls will stay open for 24 hours. YOU decide who moves on to the Sweet 16.

Player’s seeding is in parentheses. Entire bracket is below.

Bruce Douglas (3) vs. Andy Kaufmann (14)

Douglas, an Illinois Mr. Basketball coming out of high school, had a successful career as an Illini, leading the team to four straight NCAA tournament appearances. His sophomore campaign saw averages of almost 13 points, 5.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.4 steals. This is the same year in which the Illini took home a Big Ten Championship and fell just short of a Final Four appearance. Douglas was a multiple All-Big Ten Team selection, back-to-back Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (‘85 & ‘86) and still holds the Illini career records in assists (765) and steals (264).

Andy Kaufmann joined the team as a freshman during the Flying Illini Final Four run. He is known as one of the greatest scorers in Illinois history. As a junior, he averaged over 21 points per game, five rebounds, and shot almost 40 percent from behind the arc. His 660-point season is one of the highest in Illini history, along with 46 points against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the second-highest scoring performance in school history. Nothing is more memorable than his buzzer beater against Iowa.


Bruce Douglas (3) or Andy Kaufmann (14)?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Bruce Douglas (3)
    (154 votes)
  • 39%
    Andy Kaufmann (14)
    (102 votes)
256 votes total Vote Now

Kendall Gill (6) vs. Eddie Johnson (11)

Another member of the Flying Illini squad, Kendall Gill averaged 15 points, four assists, three rebounds, and two steals en route to a Final Four. As a senior, increased those numbers to 20 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Gill led the Big Ten in scoring his senior year and was a First-Team All-American. Gill’s success in college landed him at the number five slot in the 1990 NBA Draft. Gill had an impressive 15-year stint in the league and left with over 12,000 points, 4,000 rebounds, and over 1,500 steals.

Johnson played his seasons at Illinois from 1977-81 and made an impact right off the bat. The 6-foot-7, small forward started every game his junior and senior year. He averaged 17 points, nine rebounds, and a pair of assists during both seasons. He led the Illini to a 15-0 start, including this buzzer beater against some guy named, Magic Johnson.

Johnson would go onto a long career in the NBA where he ranks as the highest-scoring player to never make an NBA All-Star game (19,202).


Kendall Gill (6) or Eddie Johnson (11)?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    Kendall Gill (6)
    (210 votes)
  • 21%
    Eddie Johnson (11)
    (59 votes)
269 votes total Vote Now

Brian Cook (7) vs. Johnny “Red” Kerr (10)

Former McDonald’s All-American and Illinois Mr. Basketball, Cook had one of the most decorated careers of an Illini ever. He brought home Big Ten Player of the Year, First Team All-Big Ten, Second Team All-American, Co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and left as the third-leading scorer in Illinois history. He was part of a 2001 team that earned a number one seed in the NCAA tournament, which made it to the Elite Eight before getting upset by Arizona. Illinois would get revenge a few years later. I’m looking at you, Deron Williams. Cook ended his college career with a 20-point, 7.6-rebound, and two assist senior season. He played on a few teams in the NBA, but didn’t contribute more than 7.9 points per game in any given year.

A 6-foot-9, 230-pound bruiser, Kerr played from 1951-54. Most notably, Kerr was the Big Ten Player of the Year in his final season with Illinois, and he also helped the team win a Big Ten Championship and reach the NCAA Final Four in 1952. Kerr put up averages of 14, 17, and 25 points in his three years of varsity basketball. A 12-year veteran in the NBA, eight of his seasons, Kerr finished averaging a double-double.


Brian Cook (7) or Johnny "Red" Kerr (10)?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Brian Cook (7)
    (161 votes)
  • 40%
    Johnny "Red" Kerr (10)
    (109 votes)
270 votes total Vote Now

Deron Williams (2) vs. Marcus Liberty (15)

The 2-seed and namesake of this region, Deron Williams played three seasons at the University of Illinois before foregoing his senior season and being drafted by the Jazz third overall. He boasted averages of 11 points, six assists, and three rebounds during his three years at Illinois. Williams was selected as a Consensus Second-Team All-American, First-Team All-Big Ten twice, Big Ten All-Tournament Team, All-Final Four Team. He had a tremendous career at the next level. Williams made three NBA All-Star teams, All-NBA Second Team twice, NBA All-Rookie First Team, and he brought home two gold medals. One of Bill Self’s top recruits, Williams was part of a star-studded 2004-05 Illinois team that had an almost perfect regular season and reached the NCAA Championship. He hit this memorable shot to get them there:

Liberty only played with the Illini for two years, but they were rather memorable. He was part of the Flying Illini team in the 1989 season. Liberty was one of the leading scorers for the squad at 17.8 points per game and over seven rebounds per game. A McDonald’s All-American in high school, Liberty’s game didn’t translate well to the NBA. After just four seasons in the league, he wound up overseas where he played for another eight years.


Deron Williams (2) or Marcus Liberty (15)?

This poll is closed

  • 97%
    Deron Williams (2)
    (271 votes)
  • 2%
    Marcus Liberty (15)
    (7 votes)
278 votes total Vote Now

Below is the entire bracket prior to the start of the Round of 32.

Let us know how or why you voted the way you did in the comments!