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. 3 Red Kerr (1954-55)

Illinois basketball had so many great players in the middle of the 1900s. I already touched on the talent that Don Ohl brought to the table. Red Kerr was just as impactful on the game of basketball.

Kerr put up huge numbers in the three seasons with the Illini. He notched a spot on the All-Big Ten team during his final year with the program in which he averaged 25.3 points per game.

The talent of Kerr got him noticed by the professional ranks. In the 1954 NBA Draft, the Syracuse Nationals selected the Illinois big man with the No. 6 pick overall.

The year before Kerr got to the Nationals, they made it to the NBA Championship game and fell just short to the Minneapolis Lakers. Syracuse needed an extra bump, and Kerr was just the answer.

Kerr came into the franchise and was great. He averaged 10.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. Syracuse forged ahead that season and went 43-29 overall. They entered the playoffs and took down the Fort Wayne Pistons in the NBA Finals 4-3.

On top of Kerr’s great season stats, he also performed well in the NBA Finals. At the age of 22, he averaged 12.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game in the finals against the Pistons.

Having a great rookie season and then notching an NBA Championship is an impressive feat. Kerr was a special player.