Top 10 Illinois basketball players who would have cashed in from new NCAA rules

There is a new NCAA on the horizon, and I couldn't even imagine how much former Illinois basketball players could have made from the new rules
Nick Anderson
Nick Anderson / Jonathan Daniel/GettyImages
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4.  Deon Thomas (1990-94)

Illinois was coming off a great run with the Flyin’ Illini. A bridge from that run to the future was supposed to be Deon Thomas.

Thomas would have raked in the money if he was playing with the ability to earn a salary. He was a Parade All-American coming out of high school. As one of the best players in the country, there would have been a bidding war for him.

There wasn’t a ton of talent on those early-1990s teams for the Illini either. Thomas was the leading scorer in his final three seasons with the program, so that would have bumped up his salary. He was the man on those Illinois teams.

If you had to say anything that might take away some value it would be that Illinois didn’t have great teams in the early-1990s. We had some sanctions due to the recruitment of Thomas, which wouldn’t even be a thing today. Illinois just didn’t have a quality team when Thomas was around.

I still think Thomas makes huge money with Illinois. He was the star of the team, and a large part of the funds would have gone to him.

3. Nick Anderson (1987-89)

Illinois has had two teams that stick out to most fans. The 2005 national championship team and the 1989 Flyin’ Illini. One of the architects of this 1989 squad and the best player on the team was Nick Anderson.

The amount of money Anderson would have made in college would have been stupid. He was insanely good and was a Parade All-American coming out of Simeon in Chicago. Being one of the best players in the country would have garnered a ton of money, but the fact Illinois had him in our backyard probably means he makes more in Champaign.

Anderson put up huge numbers in the two seasons he was with the Illini. In year one, he averaged 15.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. In his final season, he put up 18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Talent alone would have earned him a lot of money.

Winning was another key element of Anderson’s time at Illinois. We were a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament during his first season, and then the Illini were the No. 1 seed and made the Final 4 during his final season.

The Flyin’ Illini name was coined during Anderson’s run, and being the best player on that team would have been fruitful for the in-state guard.

I would say the only thing that would hurt Anderson’s value at all would be the fact so much talent was on those teams. But I still think he makes bank in two seasons.