Eleven years later: Comparing Illinois and North Carolina alumni in the NBA



Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams (8) shoots the ball during the first half on Monday, March 7, 2016, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. (Andy Jacobsohn/Dallas Morning News/TNS)

By Thomas Polcyn

Tweet- @IlliniMBB and @UNC_Basketball matched up for the national championship 11 years ago. See where they are now.

Eleven years ago, Deron Williams and the Illinois men’s basketball team fell to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2005 National Championship.RB

Since then, the programs have gone in different directions, and many of the alumni playing professionally can illustrate that.

North Carolina has 16 alumni currently playing in the NBA whereas Illinois has just two.RB

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    Three total from both schools played in the 2005 National Championship game.RB

    Illinois’ sole contributor from the runner-up team, point guard Deron Williams, is currently playing in his 11th season with his third team for the league.RB

    After falling to the Tar Heels in the national championship, Williams was drafted third overall by the Utah Jazz, where he played until the 2010-2011 season. RBHe was then traded to the New Jersey Nets (currently the Brooklyn Nets).RB Following his stint in New Jersey and Brooklyn, he joined the Dallas Mavericks, where he is playing with one familiar opponent from 2005’s March MadnessRB

    North Carolina’s Raymond Felton, who was drafted just two picks behind Williams, played point guard against Williams in the national championship. Now, he is Williams’ backup.RB

    North Carolina’s Marvin Williams, who also played in the 2005 tournament, is still in the league. Williams was drafted second overall, one pick before Deron Williams and is currently playing 30 minutes a game for the Charlotte Hornets.RB

    The only other Illini player that is currently playing in the NBA is Meyers Leonard of the Portland Trail Blazers.RB

    Leonard was drafted 11th overall in 2012 by the Trail Blazers. He has put up solid numbers in his time with the team, but due to injuries, he has not been able to stay on the floor. Since his rookie season, he has not played in more than 61 games and recently suffered another setback after separating his left shoulder for a second time. He is expected to be out for six to nine months.

    Among other notable Tar Heels still in the league are Ty Lawson, Harrison Barnes, Vince Carter, Danny Green and Tyler Hansbrough.RB

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