Illini Basketball: Five Players Deserving of UI Athletics Hall of Fame

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The Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame Class for 2020 was announced earlier today and it includes athletes and coaches from nine different sports. It’s only the fourth such class in U of I sports history and when you look at the full class, aggregated with the previous three, you still have some names missing.

(And we covered who should be next to get in, from football, in this post). What’s the most glaring omission from Illini basketball (on the men’s side)? Well, we’d argue any of the five below on this list…

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Illini Center Kofi Cockburn Announces Entry into NBA Draft

Illinois Fighting Illini Center Kofi Cockburn announced, just minutes ago via his Instagram page, his early entry into the 2020 NBA Draft. It is unclear, given the text of the message he posted, whether he is just testing the waters or not.

The message says nothing about hiring an agent, which is the determining factor for whether or not he can return to school for his sophomore season. If he has representation, then his college career is over. If not, then he can come back to Champaign next year, and even go through this process after his next two seasons, if he so desires. See his IG posting below:

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New Illini Athletics HOF Class Announced; Still No Quarterbacks

Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke, 1995 Butkus Award winner Kevin Hardy and long-time NBA star Derek Harper headline 15-person Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame Class for 2020. The class, which was announced just minutes ago, includes athletes and coaches from nine different sports and covers athletes from 1901 through 2013.

It’s only the fourth such class in Illini athletics history and when you look at the full class, aggregated with the previous three, you have plenty of snubs to point out. (And we’ll do that in another post shortly). What’s most glaring here? Still not a single quarterback in the hall yet.

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Manchester City Transfer Talk: Ferran Torres, Houssem Aouar

MANCHESTER CITY

Manchester City, along with the rest of global football, are off indefinitely, so instead we’ll have to do some transfer talk. If there’s one thing that can survive a global pandemic, it’s transfer rumors. We start with 21-year-old starlet Houssem Aouar, who is wanted by several big, rich clubs according to The Sun.

The list includes Manchester City, but also Arsenal, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Juventus.

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2020 NBA Mock Draft Version 4-8-20

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We don’t have any actual real sports, anywhere, for the foreseable future, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While playing games again, especially with fans present, is most likely months away, the respective drafts can still go ahead as planned, albeit in a very modified version.

As of now, the first of the four major U.S. sports drafts, the NFL edition, is still on. They’ll have to scale down and do it completely different, so as to adhere to CDC social distancing protocols, but it’s better than nothing. In that spirit, here is the link to our latest NFL mock draft. For the MLB mock draft go here, and the NHL can be found at this link.

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Stellar Kentucky Wildcats Guard Duo in NBA Draft to Stay

Within the past 24 hours we’ve seen the top two players, arguably, on the University of Kentucky declare for the NBA Draft in guards Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans. Both backcourt stars are not testing the waters, they’re in the draft to stay.

And you got to like their chances of not just being drafted, but also making it big in the league given the UK track record in this arena. If you look at the basketball betting odds, chances are that you’ll see the favored team with a squad that contains at least a couple former UK Wildcats. In fact, players who were coached by John Calipari in college have earned $2.2 billion in NBA contracts.

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Dee Brown Retains Asst. Position Under New Coach at UIC

dee brown

Despite the change in leadership at UIC, Illinois Fighting Illini legend Dee Brown will remain on board as an assistant coach. Luke Yaklich, announced last week as the Flames new head coach, has formalized his staff, and it includes Brown, Will Veasley and Brock Erickson.

Yaklich, a former Texas and Michigan assistant, takes over for Steve McClain, who was dismissed on March 13, after leading the program for five seasons.

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Kentucky Wildcats Transfer Johnny Juzang Down to Six Schools

Kentucky Wildcats wing Johnny Juzang announced on Saturday that he entered the NCAA transfer portal. Last night he tweeted that he’s down to six choices when it comes to his next destination: Notre Dame, UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, Villanova and Texas Tech.

No matter where he ends up, he’ll be a big difference maker. Let’s take a closer look at what Juzang, ranked the No. 34 prospect by the Recruiting Services Consensus Index, brings to the table and how he can help his next team.

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Giorgi Bezhanishvili Has the Best Advice to Get Through Pandemic

Giorgi Bezhanishvili and the #21 ranked Illnois Fighting Illini were on the verge of making the program’s first NCAA Tournament since 2013 when the postseason got canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The sophomore forward from Rustavi, Georgia realizes that the world is facing problems that are much bigger than basketball, but it still hurts to think about what they missed out on.

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Brad Underwood Provides Updates on Illini Offseason

brad underwood

Illinois Fighting Illini coach Brad Underwood met the media via teleconference today, in an extensive session that covered a wide range of topics. Illinois finished the season ranked #21 in the nation, and they were projected to be about a #6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

They stood a great chance of progressing to the second weekend of March Madness. “We assumed we’d be making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament so there wouldn’t be any spring break,” Underwood said today of the team’s plans in early March, and how they gelled with the school’s academic calendar.

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John Calipari Gives Conditioning Advice for Quarantine

The new normal for sports media consists of Zoom, Cisco WebEx and teleconferences. Gone are press conferences and locker room access. For athletes doing strength training, the new normal consists of bench press pressing tires, pulling/pushing motor vehicles and jumping on to garbage cans.

They’ve had to say goodbye to the weight room and any kind of training in groups. Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari, while on Zoom teleconference with the media, pointed out the challenges basketball players have right now to stay in shape and keep their skills fresh.

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John Calipari Gives Updates on Draft Process, Recruiting, More

Zoom, WebEx, Skype- this is our lives as sports reporters for the foreseeable future. It’s an adjustment to be sure, but it’s still a bit weird. It’s what we all have to do though, as every single one of us must mobilize for the greater good. We all miss March Madness of course, but there is absolutely no way the games could have been played under current conditions.

In a year with no clear favorite, Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari had a team that could have definitely won it all. Betting on UK in the NCAA Tournament has a been a profitable endeavor over the years, as this accumulator calculator can show you. With eight NCAA Tournament championships and 17 Final Fours in their history, a lot of people have won green betting on big blue.

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