Illini legend Deon Thomas is returning to a University of Illinois.
Thomas is joining the coaching staff at UIC as an assistant to head coach Howard Moore, the Flames announced Tuesday. This after a nearly 15-year professional career playing overseas.
“I can’t begin to express how excited I am for this opportunity and how much I respect coach Moore,” Thomas said in the school's release. “I want to help put UIC basketball back on the map and win championships. I grew up near UIC and would walk past the university almost every day, so this is like a homecoming for me.”
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Thomas played his high school basketball at Simeon, winning a 1988 Public League title and earning the title of Mr. Basketball.
He then spent a record-setting career in Champaign, leaving and still reigning as the program's all-time leader in points (2,129), blocks (177) and made field goals (803). He was an All-Big Ten selection in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Thomas was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1994 NBA Draft but decided to play overseas instead. He played from 1994 through 2008.
Interestingly, Thomas' career-high 39 points came in a game against UIC on Dec. 30, 1991.