Kendall Gill on Past, Present and Future Illini Basketball


Everyone here knows Kendall Cedric Gill, retired NBA player, now professional boxer and analyst for Comcast Sports Net and the Big Ten Network.

The ex-Chicago Bulls
player and current Bulls expert for CSN starred at suburban Rich Central
before taking his talents to Champaign-Urbana for the "Flyin' Illini" of the late 80s, earning a Final Four berth in 1989. He's quintessentially Chicago basketball through and through.

I had an exclusive with Gill this off-season. For part one on Bulls insights go here. For part two, discussing the 2010-11 Fighting Illini go here. Welcome to part three, discussing the past, present and future Illini.

kendall gill

"There's no team like the '89 Flying Illini," Gill said when I asked
him how this year's team compared with his legendary squad. However, he
did heap a ton of praise on the 2010-11 Illinois basketball team.

"From top to bottom, they're more talented than o5, but the '05 team
was special because they had Deron Williams who blossomed into one of
the best point guards in the league. They had a tremendous leader, and
that's one thing Demetri McCamey has to do,"

Yes, it is the '05 National Runner-up team, the squad that set the school (and tied a then NCAA record) for wins.

"I think Mike Davis,
if he puts together a really solid year, we'll be watching him on the
draft next year. But he needs to realize that he needs to be tough.
Enough of this nice guys stuff, he needs to come in meaner and try to
dominate because he can," Gill said about the Illini four.

He also had a lot to say about McCamey, the man who plays the one.
Who seems to be drawing more comparisons to Deron Williams everyday.
Does Gill find those valid?

"I would really like to see him take more of a leadership role in
telling everyone where to go, he's hit some big shots, some game-winners
and developing more of a killer instinct if he can do that than yeah I
think he can get to where Deron Williams is," Gill responded.

"Jereme Richmond
has a lot of upside, he can come in and help right away, probably the
most talented player on that team as a freshman, he has all the skills,
the tools, the hype. Now he just needs to be willing to work harder to
make himself better. But one thing they have to understand is- there is
no feeling of entitlement, because if you do that, you're going to set
yourself up to fail,"

I think it's Illinois' time. It's going to be tough, but with the
recruiting class that's coming in, with the two freshmen that played a
lot of minutes last year, they got everybody back and I think they're
more athletic than anybody, and I think if they're hungry they can win
the Big Ten," Kendall concluded.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports , a Midwest webzine. He's also a regular contributor to the Tribune's Chicago Now network, Walter, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports


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  • not a bad article, but if you were truly a basketball guru, you would know that Kendell starred at Rich Central, not Rich South. Current Illini Crandell Head went to Rich South. Kendall led Rich Central to the state championship game, where I believe the Olympians lost to Marcus Liberty and King.

  • Yeah I knew that

    just a typo. good catch- I'll fix it now

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