Former Illini return to play for Williams’ Point of Hope charity

More than 100 former Illinois men’s basketball players, coaches and staff will all be back in town for the weekend, and about 40 of them will once again play at the Assembly Hall.

Alumni scheduled to play are as recently graduated as Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale and range all the way back to Kendall Gill, a member of the famed “Flying Illini,” who last played for Illinois more than 20 years ago.

But perhaps the most recognizable name on the list is Deron Williams, who is putting on Saturday’s game to help benefit his charity, the Point of Hope Foundation.

“It’s always good to get back to Champaign,” Williams said. “It will be a fun event, I’m looking forward to seeing the current players and catching up with a lot of the former players and coaches and just hang out with the guys and beat up on them on the court as well.”

Other players committed to play include Dee Brown, Luther Head and Roger Powell, all of whom played with Williams on the national runner-up 2004-05 team.

A pair of former coaches also return to campus. Lon Krueger will be an honorary coach while Bill Self will attend a reception Friday honoring the 2001 and 2002 Big Ten Championship teams.

Tickets for Saturday’s events are $15, with the doors to the Assembly Hall opening at 4 p.m.

An hour later, the current Illinois team will hold an open intrasquad scrimmage, with the alumni game following at 6 p.m.

Following the game, Williams will host a reception at the Activities and Recreation Center where fans can meet the players and bid on items, including autographed memorabilia and travel packages, in live and silent auctions.

Tickets for the reception are $100 and can be ordered through Williams’ foundation at pointofhopefoundation.org

“He’s given back, and he truly gives back to us,” current head coach Bruce Weber said.

“We’re not only hopeful we have a great turnout for the game on Saturday … but we also hope his event will go over big right after.”

Before the alumni play, the current roster will take the floor in the first time for fans to see Illinois’ seven new players. However, Weber said freshman Devin Langford will not play because of a deep thigh bruise. Weber added that he is optimistic sophomore Meyers Leonard will play despite a strained MCL.

Saturday’s scrimmage will serve as the last day of practice before the Illini head overseas to Italy on a basketball tour.

The team announced Thursday it will make a stop at the Aviano Air Base with the West Virginia Mountaineers on Aug. 17. The two teams will hold a clinic for children of the troops, participate in a dunk contest, scrimmage against military personnel and scrimmage against each other.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the Aviano Air Base and thank the outstanding men and women who are serving there,” Weber said in a prepared statement. “Participating in the youth clinic and scrimmages should provide a fun and rewarding experience for everyone. We’re grateful the NCAA has granted a waiver for our team to partner with West Virginia for this special event, so that we can recognize and show our appreciation of the dedicated service of the U.S. Armed Forces.”