Illinois basketball started to target a legacy recruit on Monday of this week.
The Illini teams of the 1980s were special to a large chunk of the fanbase. Illinois would only miss one NCAA tournament during that decade, and a trip to the Final Four would happen in 1989.
Dubbed the Flyin’ Illini, the 1989 squad had some special talent. One of the players who helped lead the team that season was Kendall Gill. After Gill got Illinois to four-straight NCAA tournament appearances, he would go on to have a 15-year NBA career. While those two accomplishments are great, it seems that he has a bigger accomplishment currently rising through the high school basketball ranks.
Kendall’s son, Phoenix Gill, is a great player for St. Ignatius High School in Chicago, Illinois. He isn’t rated or ranked just yet because he is from the class of 2025, but Gill is starting to get some recruiting attention. Which program was his first scholarship offer?
Illinois, of course.
On Monday, Gill took to Twitter to announce that Illinois had come in with a scholarship offer. This is a great offer for the program and one that will pay dividends down the road.
Phoenix Gill has a chance to do what his father didn’t do with the Illinois basketball program.
That team in 1989 is still talked about today. The talent that was amassed is impressive, and you will have a hard time finding another Illinois basketball team with that much talent throughout time.
But that Flyin’ Illini squad only got to the Final Four. They couldn’t win the national title or even get there. That is something Gill would have a chance to do with the Illinois basketball program if he would pick Champaign as his landing spot.
Illinois is a sleeping giant as far as basketball goes. We have qualified for the postseason the last three years and got to the second round in back-to-back NCAA tournaments. Brad Underwood has proved he can recruit well, and he has the Illini set up for success this season and into the future.
Gill would join a team in 2025 that would have Morez Johnson, a top 50 recruit in 2024, entering his second season. He would be playing the No. 4 spot on the floor. ZZ Clark, a top 125 recruit in 2024, will be leading the way at point guard. The foundation is already there for Illinois to have a national title-contending team.
Having the Illinois basketball team win a national title is up there in the top five things I want as a sports fan. The Illini winning that national title with a Gill on the roster would add an extra layer of special. Let’s make it happen.