Illinois Men’s Basketball missed the NCAA Tournament again this season, marking five years in a row without a bid for the Illini. Since we still have March Madness fever at The Champaign Room, we’re holding our Greatest Illini Men’s Basketball Player Ever Tournament this month, and you’re going to decide the winners.
Today we’re continuing with the Sweet 16 for the right side of our bracket, which includes the Dee Brown and Kiwane Garris regions. Brown was the tournament’s No. 2 overall seed, as ranked by our staff, and Garris came in third overall.
Check out our preview of each matchup and then vote for which player you think deserves to move on in our bracket to the Elite 8. Voting will be open for one day.
Player’s seeding is in parentheses. Entire bracket is below.
Dee Brown (1) vs. Brandon Paul (9)
The Headband. The Braids. The Mouth Guard. The Jersey Pop. The One-Man Fastbreak. Dee needs no introduction or statistics to backup his four legendary seasons in Champaign. Dee Brown was the face of the 2005 Final Four team that lost to UNC in the NCAA title game, and one of the most iconic players in the last 20 years of college basketball. Brown is fourth in school history in career points (1,812), second in career three pointers (299) and steals (231), and third in career assists (674). Brown is the winningest player in Illinois history with 114 victories in his four years. In 2005, Brown was named the Sporting News National Player of the Year, Big Ten Player of the Year and was a consensus First-Team All-American. In 2006 he was a consensus Second-Team All-American while also winning the Bob Cousy Award and the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award.
Brandon Paul is ninth on the all-time scoring list with 1,654 points. Paul had many highlight moments during his Illini career, including a buzzer beater against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament that helped secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament, and a 35-point game in a winning effort in a top-15 matchup at Gonzaga in that same senior season. However, he had no bigger moment than his 43 point game in Champaign to upset No. 3 Ohio State during his junior season. It is the third highest scoring total an Illinois player has ever put up in a single game. Paul is only the second player in Illinois history with 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals. Paul made two All-Big Ten Third Teams and is currently in his rookie season in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs after bouncing around Europe and the D-league.
Dee Brown (1) or Brandon Paul (9)?
This poll is closed
Dee Brown (1)
Brandon Paul (9)
James Augustine (5) vs. Malcolm Hill (4)
James Augustine was a four-year starter and teammate of Dee Brown and was the anchor down low during the magical 2005 season and back-to-back Big Ten Championships. Augustine is tied with Dee Brown for the most wins in program history with 114. Augustine is Illinois’ all-time career leader in rebounds with 1,023, which is 114 more rebounds than second place on that list. Augustine also ranks sixth on the all-time blocked shots list with 139. Augustine was drafted in the second round by the Orlando Magic where he played 27 games over two seasons. Augustine is still playing overseas where he has had very successful professional career.
Malcolm Hill is the most recent player on this list and he led a unique Illini career because he never made it to an NCAA Tournament. However, that doesn’t mean he didn’t cement himself as an all-time Illini great. Hill finished his career with 1,850 points, which was good enough to surpass Dee Brown for third all-time. In his junior season Hill led the Illini in points, rebounds, assists, steals and was one shy of the team lead in blocks. Hill could do it all and had to do it all during his time in Champaign. Hill made two Second-Team All-Big Ten Teams and earned an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention during his sophomore season.
James Augustine (5) or Malcolm Hill (4)?
This poll is closed
James Augustine (5)
Malcolm Hill (4)
Nick Anderson (3) vs. Derek Harper (6)
Name-dropping Nick Anderson to any Illini fan is sure to conjure up memories and happy thoughts of what Illinois Basketball used to be in the mid-to-late 1980s. Anderson only played at Illinois for two seasons before leaving for the NBA, but his impact in Champaign still resonates all of these years later. Anderson was Mr. Basketball in Illinois in 1986, playing his high school ball at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago. Anderson averaged 18.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game for a 1989 Illini team that reached the Final Four.
Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers fans will remember Derek Harper fondly. The former Illini point guard spent 11 seasons in Dallas, averaging 15 points and over six assists per game with the Mavericks. In Champaign, Harper was known as a team-first, hard-nosed guard with a great eye for making the perfect pass — he led the Big Ten in assists in his second season with the Illini in 1981-82. He was an extension of coach Lou Henson on the floor and was an intangible leader in the early stages of what would eventually grow to become the Flying Illini.
Nick Anderson (3) or Derek Harper (6)?
This poll is closed
Nick Anderson (3)
Derek Harper (6)
Frank Williams (10) vs. Kiwane Garris (2)
Frank Williams has to be one of the most popular Illini of all-time, and his legend continues with his son Da’Monte on the current Illinois squad. The 6-foot-3 guard from Peoria played for Illinois for three seasons, his best two seasons coming in 2000-01 and 2001-02. Williams won Big Ten Player of the Year his second season where he averaged 14.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Frank Williams was part of Bill Self’s first two Illini seasons. Williams led the Illini to the Elite Eight in 2000-01 and Sweet Sixteen in 2001-02. He is 13th all-time on the Big Ten steals list.
Kiwane Garris (1993-1997) is one of the greatest Illini basketball players of all time. He averaged over 31 minutes per game over four years, a longevity that’s pretty rare these days in the college game. He was the total package: A volume scorer, a high-octane rebounder for someone was just 6-foot-2, and an unselfish passer. He was an elite free throw shooter who averaged over 80 percent from the stripe all four years he was in school. His career stat-line: 16.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.4 steals. The Illini made the NCAA Tournament three of his four years in Champaign.
Frank Williams (10) or Kiwane Garris (2)?
This poll is closed
Frank Williams (10)
Kiwane Garris (2)
Here is the current bracket as things stand after we have half of the Sweet 16 already filled!