A Recap of Illini Midnight Madness: Illinois Basketball Is Back and Loaded

Heralded Illini freshman center Meyers Leonard hangs on the rim during Friday night's Midnight Madness.

On Friday night, Illinois basketball kicked off its 2010-11 season with its annual Illini Madness event.

With many fans and recruits in attendance at Huff Hall, Illinois redshirt freshman Joseph Bertrand stole the show, winning the hotshot, dunk and impromptu dance contests.

Here’s a review of the festivities.

A Recruiting Bonanza

Illinois not only unveiled its heralded freshman class of Jereme Richmond, Meyers Leonard and Crandall Head but hosted a slew of recruits.

According to News Gazette writer Paul Klee, the Illini recruits at Midnight Madness included:

  • Mycheal Henry (Class of 2011, Committed to Illinois, Senior at Chicago’s Orr High School);
  • Tracy Abrams (Class of 2011, Committed to Illinois, Senior at Chicago’s Mount Carmel);
  • Jahlil Okafor (Class of 2014, Freshman at Chicago’s Whitney Young High School);
  • Paul White (Class of 2014, Freshman at Chicago’s Whitney Young High School);
  • DeJuan Marrero (Class of 2012, Junior at Thea Bowman Academy in Gary, Indiana);
  • C.J. Jones (Class of 2012, Junior at Chicago’s Orr High School);
  • Malcolm Hill-Bey (Class of 2012, Junior at Chicago’s Mount Carmel);
  • Larry Austin (Class of 2014, Freshman at Springfield-Lanphier High School);
  • Preston Wells (Class of 2013, Sophomore at Peoria Richwoods High School);
  • Jaylon Tate (Class of 2013, Sophomore at Chicago’s De La Salle High School);
  • Kendrick Nunn (Class of  2013, Sophomore at Chicago’s Simeon High School);
  • Tommy Hamilton Jr. (Class of 2013, Sophomore at Chicago’s Whitney Young High School);
  • Jabari Parker (Class of 2013, Sophomore at Chicago’s Simeon High School); and
  • Chasson Randle (Class of 2011, Senior at Rock Island High School).

Some Illinois fans were hoping that Randle would commit after the event, but the senior from Rock Island, Illinois, is not expected to make an announcement until before Thanksgiving.

Randle is considering Illinois, Purdue and Stanford.

And Now to the Actual Basketball…

Midnight Madness started with the individual Illini players taking the court one-by-one as announced.

The first competition of the night was a dance off.

While most of the players shied away from the spotlight, the sophomore trio of Brandon Paul, DJ Richardson, and Joseph Bertrand all took their turns strutting their stuff.

At the end, Bertrand was declared the winner.

The team then moved on to a knockout competition.

After a few minutes, Bertrand, Bill Cole, Demetri McCamey and Tyler Griffey advanced to the final four.

After a couple of tense minutes of action, Bertrand once again emerged the victor.

Up next was the dunk contest.

With the Illini seniors (Cole, McCamey, Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale) serving as judges, the other players took turns showcasing their skills.

Jerome Richmond, Meyers Leonard, and Bertrand all had dunks that brought the whole crowd to its feet.

In the finals, both Bertrand and Leonard dunked over another teammate, D.J. Richardson and Kevin Berardini, respectively.

Bertrand was declared the winner, with Leonard’s dunk perhaps not as impressive because he has already done so in a game.

With Bertrand stealing the show and winning all 3 contests, the Illini began its orange and blue scrimmage.

The scrimmage was little more than a continuation of the dunk contest, with the defense nonexistent and players showboating up and down the court.

In the end, the Orange team beat the Blue team 42-34.

While the score was pretty meaningless, both sides had some very impressive dunks.

Afterwards, the players met with the media and signed autographs for the fans.

As expected, Midnight Madness was fun for everyone who attended.

The players got to show off in front of the fans, the recruits experienced the avid Illinois fan base and saw some of the fun the team gets to have, and the fans got an exciting preview of what figures to be a very interesting season.

Writing Illini will post some more pictures from Midnight Madness in the next couple of days.

Until then.

Topics: Assembly Hall, Bill Cole, Brandon Paul, Bruce Weber, C.J. Jones, Chasson Randle, Crandall Head, D.J. Richardson, DeJuan Marrero, Demetri McCamey, Illini Basketball, Illinois Basketball, Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Jaylon Tate, Jereme Richmond, Jerrance Howard, Joseph Bertrand, Kendrick Nunn, Larry Austin, Malcolm Hill-Bey, Meyers Leonard, Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, Mycheal Henry, Paul White, Tommy Hamilton Jr., Tracy Abrams, Tyler Griffey, U-of-I Basketball

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