Everyone here knows Kendall Cedric Gill, retired NBA player, now professional boxer and analyst for Comcast Sports Net and the Big Ten Network.
The ex-Chicago Bulls player and current Bulls expert for CSN starred at suburban Rich South before taking his talents to Champaign-Urbana for the “Flyin’ Illini” of the late 80s, earning a Final Four berth in 1989. He’s quintessentially Chicago basketball through and through.
I had an exclusive with Gill this off-season. For part one on Bulls insights go here. For part two, discussing the 2010-11 Fighting Illini go here. Welcome to part three, discussing the past, present and future Illini
“There’s no team like the ’89 Flying Illini,” Gill said when I asked him how this year’s team compared with his legendary squad. However, he did heap a ton of praise on the 2010-11 Illinois basketball team.
“From top to bottom, they’re more talented than o5, but the ’05 team was special because they had Deron Williams who blossomed into one of the best point guards in the league. They had a tremendous leader, and that’s one thing Demetri McCamey has to do,”
Yes, it is the ’05 National Runner-up team, the squad that set the school (and tied a then NCAA record) for wins.
“I think Mike Davis, if he puts together a really solid year, we’ll be watching him on the draft next year. But he needs to realize that he needs to be tough. Enough of this nice guys stuff, he needs to come in meaner and try to dominate because he can,” Gill said about the Illini four.
He also had a lot to say about McCamey, the man who plays the one. Who seems to be drawing more comparisons to Deron Williams everyday. Does Gill find those valid?
“I would really like to see him take more of a leadership role in telling everyone where to go, he’s hit some big shots, some game-winners and developing more of a killer instinct if he can do that than yeah I think he can get to where Deron Williams is,” Gill responded.
“Jereme Richmond has a lot of upside, he can come in and help right away, probably the most talented player on that team as a freshman, he has all the skills, the tools, the hype. Now he just needs to be willing to work harder to make himself better. But one thing they have to understand is- there is no feeling of entitlement, because if you do that, you’re going to set yourself up to fail,”
I think it’s Illinois’ time. It’s going to be tough, but with the recruiting class that’s coming in, with the two freshmen that played a lot of minutes last year, they got everybody back and I think they’re more athletic than anybody, and I think if they’re hungry they can win the Big Ten,” Kendall concluded.
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.comFollow paulmbanks