Illini freshman wing Kendrick Nunn was a consensus national top 75 recruit. Kendrick Nunn has ascended since being promoted to the starting lineup. He led the Illini with 19 points in their win at Penn State, ending a horrendous eight game skid. Nunn led Illinois again in scoring last night, again with 19 as he shot the lights out from three. (5-7 3PT FGM-FGA). Illinois continued their dominance over the Gophers. Even in lean years, and this is as lean as it gets, Illinois OWNS Minnesota.
Since 1997, Illinois are 28-6 versus the, including 11-4 clip at Williams Arena. They’ve now won 11 out of the last 13 versus ‘Sota.
And Kendrick Nunn had a lot to do with that. He’s very important for the program as he 1.) represents that Simeon to Illini pipeline. And that pipeline can give Illini Nation something warm and fuzzy to think about during the worst season in a generation. 2.) seems to be a big piece to build around next year. They lose Bertrand and Ekey next year, and that’s it. That’s also not much. At this point, I’d say the only Illini who really have a starting spot solidified for next year are Kendrick Nunn and Rayvonte Rice. Nnanna Egwu will be there too, but only because the program lacks so much size. So with three spots penciled in, and two spots left, it will be interesting to see how things shape up with two new recruits coming in and three transfers.
And those three transfers are going to be key cogs, as Coach John Groce raves about how they perform in practice. Supposedly, the scout team, with Ahmad Starks, Aaron Cosby and Darius Paul is beating the first team. So this is a discussion we’ll be having a lot moving forward, but for now Kendrick Nunn also represents the pipeline.
Nunn, along with fellow Illini freshman Jaylon Tate, won four straight state titles, tying the IHSA record at Simeon.
D.J. Williams (the earliest commit in Simeon history) joins the tradition of Simeon to Illinois, including Illini all-time leading scorer, Deon Thomas. Obviously, Kendrick Nunn, Jaylon Tate, Nick Anderson, Ervin Small, Bryant Notree, Kevin Turner and Calvin Brock. What happened with Jabari Parker and Derrick Rose? Yeah, maybe I should not have brought that up.
The 25 number is a special tradition between Simeon and Illinois. Inspired by the memory of Ben Wilson, only the best player on the Simeon Wolverines can wear it. And at Illinois, it has special meaning too. Kendrick Nunn is wearing it this year in Champaign.
John Groce on Nunn’s performance in the early season.
“We’re going to do this thing by committee. We’re going to be a team that needs to do this by committee, they have to be an NBA all-star in their role. Period. As soon as one of them is not, with this team it’s not good enough, we need every body ready to go,” Groce said.
Paul M. Banks owns The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar, he’s also a frequent analyst on news talk radio; with regular segments on ESPN,NBC, CBS and Fox. A former NBC Chicago and Washington Times writer, he’s also been featured on the History Channel. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks