Dee Brown takes home Cousy Award

Patrick Traylor The Daily Illini

By Erin Foley

Although Dee Brown never won the coveted national championship trophy he spent four seasons trying for, “the one-man-fast break” and face of college basketball still received his fair share of recognition – and with good reason.

Brown, along with James Augustine, won a record 114 games while at Illinois, and returned the school to one of the elite basketball programs with its trip to the Final Four in 2005.

That’s why Hall of Famer Bob Cousy thought Brown to be the right choice for the Cousy Award, given to the nation’s best point guard. Brown was presented with the trophy on April 3 in Indianapolis before the NCAA Championship game.

On Thursday, Brian Hanlon, a sculptor for the Basketball Hall of Fame and artist for the Cousy Award, presented head coach Bruce Weber with a replica of the trophy at the Ubben Basketball Facility. The award, which is in its fourth year, honors Cousy, who played point guard for the 1947 Holy Cross NCAA Championship team, was a Boston Celtic great and was named one of the top 50 players in NBA history.

“The award has Bob’s name on it because Bob is concerned and very adamant about creating an award pointing to the point guard and pointing to the fundamentals of basketball: passing, dribbling, shooting; and that the individual is an individual with great character and is a leader on the court,” Hanlon said.

Weber said Cousy is a player who blended the lines between old-school basketball and new-school basketball because of his behind-the-back passes and between-the-leg dribbles, but also because of his sound fundamentals of “playing the point guard position like I believe it should be played.”

Previous recipients of the Cousy Award include former St. Joseph’s star and Orlando Magic guard Jameer Nelson, and also Raymond Felton, who played at the University of North Carolina and is now with the Charlotte Bobcats. Felton was the Co-MVP of the 2005 NCAA Championship game and was selected fifth in that year’s NBA draft.

“We feel it’s been extremely successful so far; we’re in our fourth year and we hope this will be the Heisman trophy of basketball, which would be a tremendous honor for the Hall and Cousy,” Hanlon said.

The replica of the Cousy Award will be kept in the trophy cases at Ubben, and Brown was presented with a replica cast in aluminum, which he keeps at his mother’s home in Chicago.

In August, the Hall of Fame unveiled a new display case for the trophy Brown received last April. Brown and Cousy were both on hand for the presentation.

Brown is Illinois’ only basketball national award winner in the modern era. Weber, who has jokingly said to head athletic director Ron Guenther that more trophy cases might need to be built, said he hopes Illinois sees more Cousy Award winners in the future.

“I don’t know how many times we’re going to have the opportunity to have a Cousy Award winner,” Weber said. “But since we have Dee, I thought it would be great to have them see something that we should cherish and promote for many years to come.”