Which Illinois basketball players made the NBA? Here are the 6 most experienced – NBC Chicago

6 Illinois basketball players with the most NBA experience originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Ayo Dosunmu brings Illinois basketball back into the NBA consciousness.

The sophomore guard, who enjoyed three seasons in Champaign so decorated the program recently hung his No. 11 jersey in the rafterstranscended his second-round draft status as a rookie by starting 41 games for the Chicago Bulls and earn second-team All-Rookie honors. Rising through the ranks of an end-of-the-bench role, Dosunmu distinguished himself with mature defensive play and controlled attacking play.

He is the latest in a long line of basketball talents to hone their game at the University of Illinois before finding success at the NBA level.

Others? There are too many to list. But here are the top six Illinois alumni by games played in the NBA:

Derek Harper – 1,199 matches

Harper started for Illinois from 1980 to 1983, playing alongside other future NBA players in Eddie Johnson, Bruce Douglas and Scott Meents.

After being selected 11th overall by the Mavericks in the 1983 NBA Draft, he enjoyed a 16-year professional career – with 11½ years of those seasons spent in Dallas, plus two and a half years in New York and one each in Orlando and Los Angeles (Lakers).

Harper averaged 13.3 points, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals in those 16 seasons, earning All-Defensive Team nods in 1987 and 1990. He’s the all-time leader the Mavericks’ times for assists (5,111) and steals (1,551), and ranks in the top four. in matches, minutes and points.

Eddie Johnson – 1,199 matches

Johnson played four seasons at Illinois – 1977-81 – and led the Illini in averaging more than 17 points per game in each of the last two.

That score translated to the NBA, to say the least. Johnson averaged 18.7 points in his first six seasons after being selected by the Kings with the sixth pick in the second round of the 1981 draft. His 9,027 points in those years is enough to still rank ranked ninth in the franchise’s all-time rankings.

Johnson then played three full seasons, and part of a fourth, with the Phoenix Suns, earning the Sixth Man of the Year for averaging 21.5 points on a career-high 49.7% shooting ( 41.3% over 3-point range) in 1988-89.

He finished his 17-year career – which also saw stops in Seattle, Charlotte, Indiana and Houston – with 19,202 points, good for 60th all-time.

Kendall Gill — 966 matches

Gill, a Chicago native, played Champaign from 1986 to 1990 and, along with future NBA-ers Nick Anderson, Kenny Battle, Marcus Liberty and Steve Bardo, was an integral part of the “Flying Illini” team that climbed to at the 1989 Final Four.

The Hornets’ fifth overall pick in the 1990 draft, Gill played a combined 15 professional seasons for Charlotte, Seattle, New Jersey, Miami, Minnesota, Chicago and Milwaukee. He remains the NBA record holder for steals in a game with 11 on April 3, 1999 while a member of the Nets.

Gill now works as a studio analyst on NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls Pre- and Postgame Live shows.

Johnny “Red” Kerr – 905 games

Kerr, also a Chicago native, enjoyed a decorated college career at Illinois from 1952 to 1954, finishing his final season as the program’s top scorer and with a 25.3 ppg campaign that still ranks second. all-time rank.

His success continued at the NBA level with 12 productive seasons, three All-Star nods and an NBA title as a member of the Syracuse Nationals in 1955, his rookie year.

Bulls fans know Kerr best from his 33 years as the team’s color commentator on television broadcasts. He called many of the franchise’s most iconic moments a mainstay to the point that it became part of Michael Jordan’s pre-game ritual.

Kerr was also the first head coach in Bulls franchise history, leading the then-expanding team to the playoffs in 1967 – when he won Coach of the Year with a record of 33-48 – and 1968.

Deron Williams – 845 matches

Williams certainly made his mark in three seasons at Illinois, earning multiple All-Big Ten selections and helping lead the program to the 2005 NCAA title game alongside future NBA-ers Luther Head, Dee Brown , Roger Powell and James Augustine.

For all his college accomplishments, Williams was the Jazz’s third pick in the 2005 draft and quickly became a star, leading Utah to the Western Conference Finals in just his second season. Williams went on to play 12 years in the NBA with the Jazz, Nets, Mavericks and Cavaliers, averaging 16.3 points and 8.1 assists.

He is also Illinois basketball’s newest NBA All-Star, having earned the accolade in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He averaged 19.9 points and 9.9 assists over those three seasons.

Nick Anderson – 800 matches

Anderson, a Chicago native who played in high school at Simeon, was the Illini’s leading scorer in their 1989 Final Four, his second and final college season.

Anderson then jumped to the NBA being selected 11th overall by the Magic in the 1989 draft. He played 10 of his 13 NBA seasons in Orlando and to date ranks first in franchise history for games played (692) and steals (1,004), and second in minutes (22,440), 3-pointers scored (900) and points. (10,650).

He also holds a special place in Bulls history as a member of the Magic team that knocked down recently returned Michael Jordan in the second round of the 1995 playoffs – but was then swept away by the record-breaking Bulls of 1996 in next season’s Eastern Conference. finals.

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