Illinois Basketball: The Present and Future at the Center Position

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Mandatory Credit: FightingIllini.com

The center position on the Illinois basketball team has been a mixed bag of talented and puzzling players throughout time.


The memories I have of the center position started back in the day when Fess Hawkins helped lead the Illini to a Big Ten Championship game as the No. 11 seed.

A combination of Marcus Griffin, Brian Cook, and Robert Archibald then transitioned the Illinois basketball team from the Fess era to a new, more athletic, era of basketball at the center position.

These three guys were a real tough combination.  All of them were tremendous rebounders and they managed to find a way to continue the progress at the center position.

James Augustine took over after that era ended.  He wasn’t your prototypical center, but he could play the role and still dominate in other areas of the court as well.

Of course, Augustine was one of the main driving forces to the 2005 National Championship run.

Shaun Pruitt was the next center in line.  He took over after the great Illini run in the mid-2000’s but couldn’t keep the momentum going.

Pruitt was your by-the-book center.  He was tall, big, and played mostly in the paint.  The teams he was on weren’t great, but it wasn’t for a lack of size.

Mike Tisdale followed Pruitt and was a solid center.  He had a nice shooting touch and would go down as one of the most unique players we have seen.

The final center in recent memory is Meyers Leonard.  He would go on to the NBA and is doing well, but his time in Champaign was confusing sometimes.

Leonard had so much potential and it is finally forming with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The center carousel has been an interesting ride.  Here are the current and potentially future centers Illinois will be working with.

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