A Night of Legends brings basketball alumni back to Assembly Hall

By Jeremy Werner

It has already been four years since the Illinois basketball team had their memorable run to the NCAA championship game. That means only graduate students and those on a five-, six- or seven-year plan were on campus when Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Luther Head and company made school history.

Seniors got their fix of Brown and James Augustine for one year, while the rest have been left to witness a post-Final-Four hangover starring Warren Carter, Rich McBride, Shaun Pruitt, Brian Randle and a now infamous car crash. With Jamar Smith’s recent expulsion from the team, things don’t seem to be getting any better.

But Illini fans will receive a dose of fun and excitement just when they need it with two events featuring former Illini greats.

The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics will host an alumni basketball game, dubbed A Night of Legends, on Sept. 13 in the Assembly Hall at 7 p.m., just a few hours after the football team hosts Louisiana-Lafayette. A little more than a month later on Oct. 17, Williams and the Utah Jazz will square off against No. 1 draft pick Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls in a preseason game at the Assembly Hall.

A Night of Legends will pit some of Illinois’ greatest players against one another in an exhibition. The 2004-05 starting lineup – Williams, Brown, Head, Augustine and Roger Powell – have confirmed their attendance. Kenny Battle, Kendall Gill and Steve Bardo, members of the 1989 Final Four team, will participate along with Brian Cook, Frank Williams, Marcus Griffin, Sergio McClain, Victor Chukwudebe and Kiwane Garris.

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“We’re excited and very pleased,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said at an Aug. 1 press conference. “It’s a big step for us to continue to establish our program and the tremendous tradition we have here at Illinois. … It’s very positive for our program to get these guys back.”

The event will also mark the first time Illinois will honor former players’ jerseys. Williams, Head and Brown will all be recognized at the game. The trio is the first of 20 men and one woman to have their jerseys hang from the Assembly Hall rafter. The additional players will be announced later in the fall.

“This will be a terrific way to permanently recognize some of the greatest players in Fighting Illini history,” Weber said in a press release.

Illinois men’s basketball season ticket holders have the first opportunity to purchase tickets for A Night of Legends. If tickets remain following the sale to season ticket holders, the general public will be able to purchase tickets for $15 each beginning Aug. 21 from the UI Athletics Ticket Office located at the Assembly Hall or online at www.fightingillini.com.

Tickets for the Bulls-Jazz preseason game – ranging from $25 to $70 – go on sale Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. through the Assembly Hall Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (217) 333-5000.