From Mark Aguirre to Julian Wright, at last count, a total of 238 Illinois products have competed in professional basketball in this country.Have you ever heard of Jack Dwan, Gene Dyker, Dan Godfread, Leary Lentz, Gene Stump or Giff Roux?Maybe not. But you've heard of Isiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Cazzie Russell, Kevin Garnett, Quentin Richardson, Corey Maggette and Juwan Howard.According to a survey by Basketball-Reference.com, there are 23 Illinois products currently playing in the NBA -- Tony Allen (Crane), Shannon Brown (Proviso East), Will Bynum (Crane), Brian Cardinal (Tolono Unity), Brian Cook (Lincoln), Eddy Curry (Thornwood), Melvin Ely (Thornton), Kevin Garnett (Farragut), Juwan Howard (Vocational), Andre Iguodala (Springfield Lanphier), Othyus Jeffers (Hubbard), Shaun Livingston (Peoria Central), Corey Maggette (Fenwick), JaVale McGee (Hales Franciscan), Nazr Mohammed (Kenwood), Jannero Pargo (Robeson), Anthony Parker (Naperville Central), Quentin Richardson (Whitney Young), Derrick Rose (Simeon), Iman Shumpert (Oak Park), Bobby Simmons (Simeon), Dwyane Wade (Richards) and Julian Wright (Homewood-Flossmoor).But Illinois products helped to build the foundation of the NBA in the 1940s and 1950s. Remember George Mikan, Sweetwater Clifton, Joe Graboski, Harry Gallatin, Dike Eddleman, Andy Phillip, Wally Osterkorn and Irv Bemoras?How about an All-Star team from the 1940s and 1950s? Sweetwater Clifton (Du Sable), George Mikan (Quigley), Andy Phillip (Granite City), Harry Gallatin (Roxana), Johnny Kerr (Tilden).How about the 1960s? Cazzie Russell (Carver), George Wilson (Marshall), Tom Hawkins (Parker), Jerry Sloan (McLeansboro), Don Nelson (Rock Island).Or Don Ohl (Edwardsville), Dave Robisch (Springfield), Donnie Freeman (Madison), Flynn Robinson (Elgin) and Jim Brewer (Proviso East)?How about the 1970s? Quinn Buckner (Thornridge), Maurice Cheeks (Du Sable), Doug Collins (Benton), Jack Sikma (St. Anne) andRickey Green (Hirsch). Or Sonny Parker (Farragut), Dan Issel (Batavia), Steve Kuberski (Moline), Kevin Porter (Du Sable) and Corky Calhoun (Waukegan).The 1980s? Mark Aguirre (Westinghouse), Terry Cummings (Carver), Hersey Hawkins (Westinghouse), Isiah Thomas (St. Joseph) andGlenn "Doc" Rivers (Proviso East).Or Eddie Johnson (Westinghouse), Rod Higgins (Thornton), Craig Hodges (Rich East), Ken Norman (Crane) and Kevin Gamble (Springfield Lanphier).The 1990s? Nick Anderson (Simeon), Juwan Howard (Vocational), Kevin Garnett (Farragut), Tim Hardaway (Carver) and Antoine Walker (Mount Carmel).Or LaPhonso Ellis (East St. Louis Lincoln), Michael Finley (Proviso East), Kendall Gill (Rich Central), Anthony Parker (Naperville Central) and Troy Hudson (Carbondale).The past decade? Derrick Rose (Simeon), Shannon Brown (Proviso East), Dwyane Wade (Richards), Andre Iguodala (Springfield Lanphier) andCorey Maggette (Fenwick).Or Quentin Richardson (Whitney Young), Bobby Simmons (Simeon), Brian Cook (Lincoln), Brian Cardinal (Tolono Unity) and Will Bynum (Crane).Who will be the next Illinois products to play in the NBA? Likely Kentucky's Anthony Davis (Perspectives), Ohio's D.J. Cooper (Seton), Illinois' Meyers Leonard (Robinson) and Simeon's Jabari Parker.Of course, this survey doesn't take into account the dozens of former Illinois high school basketball stars who didn't earn steady employment in the NBA and opted to play overseas -- in Europe, Israel, South America, Japan and Australia. Many of them, including Lloyd Batts (Thornton, Cincinnati), James Jackson (Crane, Minnesota), Audie Matthews (Bloom, Illinois), Melvin McCants (Mount Carmel, Purdue), Deon Thomas (Simeon, Illinois), Rashard Griffith (King, Wisconsin), Tom Kleinschmidt (Gordon Tech, DePaul), Kiwane Garris (Westinghouse, Illinois), Mark Miller (Westinghouse, Illinois-Chicago) and Cedrick Banks (Westinghouse, Illinois-Chicago), have enjoyed successful and profitable careers.You could make an outstanding all-star team out of that group, couldn't you?
238 Illinois prodcuts in the NBA, and counting
April 20, 2012, 3:43 pm