The Illinois basketball team has had some great players come through the program since inception.
On Monday afternoon, the Writing Illini posed the question on Twitter, “You have 1 scholarship remaining, who do you take?” The question was then followed up with four options of Deon Thomas, Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Nick Anderson.
Some people thought this was a question about who was the best Illinois player ever, and that was not the case. These were just four players that came to mind. So, for those people wanting others on this list, take it down a notch.
You have 1 scholarship remaining, who do you take? #Illini
— Writing Illini (@WritingIlliniFS) June 29, 2020
The results of the poll were Williams winning by a decent margin. He had 38.9-percent of the 647 votes. The second place player was Anderson checking in with 30.1-percent of the vote. Brown was third with 21.6-percent of the vote. Thomas brought up last place with 9.3-percent of the vote.
I think we can all agree that Thomas should be last on this list. He put up some great numbers while in college, but the other three exceed him in individual and team success. But, beyond Thomas, everything gets a little murky.
While Williams won the vote and Anderson was a sound second place, I believe Brown should be the answer here. The question is, “You have 1 scholarship remaining, who do you take?” I believe some people could be blinded by the fact that Williams and Anderson went on to have extensive NBA careers. But that doesn’t make you the better college player.
Brown was the most electrifying player in college basketball while at Illinois. He was dubbed the one-man fast break. But he wasn’t just a freak athlete. Brown had the talent to back up his speed.
Throughout his college career, Brown was a two-time consensus All-American. He was the 2004-05 Big Ten Player of the Year, and he won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year that season as well. Let’s not forget, that Illini team went to the national title.
I could continue on with his accolades. Brown was a two-time All-Big Ten player. He made the 2004 All-Big Ten Tournament team. He was also on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team during his first year in Champaign. When you are talking college basketball players, Brown is one of the best to ever do it.
There really isn’t much of a comparison to Williams and Anderson when you look at accolades. Williams did make the NCAA All-Tournament Team during the title run. He was also on the NCAA All-Region Team that year. He was a one-time consensus All-American, a two-time All-Big Ten player and on the 2004 All-Big Ten Tournament team. Those are solid accomplishments, but not as good as Brown.
Anderson didn’t have much in the way of accolades at the college level. He made the NCAA All-Region Team and was a 1988-89 All-Big Ten Team player. That is where his accolades stop in college.
Williams and Anderson were better suited for the NBA, there is no doubt about that. They both were bigger players who could handle the NBA beating. But some of the greatest college players didn’t pan out in The Association. That shouldn’t take away from their college legacy. In my opinion, Brown should have been the choice in this poll.