The Basketball Tournament is right around the corner, and the Fighting Illini (and friends) will be represented in this year’s 24-team field. The House of ‘Paign roster is replete with recent standouts — Andres Feliz, Leron Black, Nnanna Egwu, Rayvonte Rice, Malcolm Hill, Michael Finke — and some names you may not be familiar with — Matt Mooney, Mike Daum, Kyle Vinales. But the player I’m most looking forward to watching hasn’t donned the Orange & Blue in more than 18 years.
Roster Announcement #7️⃣— House of ‘Paign (@IlliniTBT) May 26, 2020
Excited to add @corybradford13 to the team! @IlliniMBB ‘s all-time 3 point leader brings veteran leadership, tremendous skill, and an incredible basketball acumen that has propelled him through his 18-year pro career. An extremely valuable piece! #Illini pic.twitter.com/Vtd4RqvgXm
Cory Bradford was part of 89 wins during his time with the Fighting Illini and a member of three NCAA Tournament teams, including a squad that reached the Elite Eight in 2001. He sits sixth in career scoring (1,735 points) and remains Illinois’ all-time three-point leader with 327. And then there’s the streak. From Nov. 10, 1998, until Feb. 13, 2001, Bradford made a three in an NCAA-record 88 consecutive games.
Bradford just concluded a nearly 20-year pro career spanning 12 foreign countries — Bosnia & Herzegovina, China, Colombia, Cyprus, France, Hungary, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. With a child on the way and the coronavirus threat halting competitive sports around the world, Bradford decided to retire in March.
The Tournament will help bring Bradford’s Illini life full circle. Exactly three members of Illinois’ 2019 roster (Tyler Underwood, Kipper Nichols, Andres Feliz) had even been born when he arrived to Champaign-Urbana in 1997, and Bradford played alongside Da’Monte Williams’ father, Frank, in college. He may be past his prime, but he can still hang.
Bradford has earned plenty of individual accolades throughout the years, but is always willing to fulfill whatever role necessary to help his teams win. He obviously won’t be the go-to guy for House of ‘Paign, but his perimeter prowess — even at 41 — could be extremely valuable.
The Basketball Tournament tips off July 4.