Top 5 NBA rookie seasons by an Illinois basketball player

Illinois basketball has a history of putting players in the NBA, and here are the top five NBA rookie seasons by former Illini greats
Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz, Game 6
Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz, Game 6 / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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No. 4 Don Ohl (1960-61)

It is tough to determine where the older players stand historically with the new players. It was a different game with different athletes back then. I feel like the No. 4 spot on this list should go to Don Ohl.

Ohl spent three seasons with the Illinois basketball program in the mid-1950s. He was great for the Illini, making the All-Big Ten team twice and averaging 19.6 points in his final season with the program.

After Ohl’s time with Illinois was done, he headed to the NBA. Back then, there were numerous rounds since there were only eight teams. With the fifth pick in the fifth round, No. 37 overall, the Philadelphia Warriors selected Ohl.

Ohl didn’t go to the Warriors, though. He spent the next couple of seasons staying local with the Peoria Caterpillars where he earned 1960 AAU All-American honors. The Detroit Pistons then bought Ohl’s contract from the Warriors.

During his rookie season with the Pistons, Ohl put up big numbers. He averaged 13.3 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game. While his Detroit team was only 34-45 and had a first-round playoff exit, Ohl still impressed. He was a 6-foot-3 guard going up against players like MVP Bill Russell, Rookie of the Year Oscar Robertson, and points and rebounds leader Wilt Chamberlain.

Putting up great numbers against that tough of competition earns Ohl a spot in the top five. It was honestly tough not putting him higher on this list.