By Jon Gluskin

How great would it be to be Dee for a day?

You could walk all around campus and be one of the most recognizable athletes in Illinois. Everyone you pass on the street wants to shake your hand, take a picture with you or get your autograph.

Girls would flock to you and little kids would pretend they are you.

You would be the most beloved player in college basketball.

Now as cool as that would be, I think it might even be cooler to be J.J. Redick for a day.

You’d be called arrogant and cocky. You’d get booed everytime you touch the ball in an opponent’s home court.

You’d be harassed, insulted and called emasculating names.

You would be the most hated player in college basketball – and the only reason for this is because you are that much better than everyone else.

Is there any greater sign of respect than being hated because you are just that good?

What J.J. Redick has done this season for Duke is simply sensational. I know that going to Illinois I’m supposed to hate Duke and everything associated with it. I’m supposed to despise Redick.

But I just can’t.

Over the past four seasons, Redick transformed from an amazing pure shooter to an amazing basketball player.

His defense has jumped to the next level, his ability to create shots has gotten better and his ballhandling ability has improved.

Combine those elements with a deadly jump shot and you have the best player in the nation.

After dropping 35 at Chapel Hill on Tuesday night, he upped his season average to 28.1 points per game, second-best in the NCAA only to Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison.

Redick saved the Dukies from defeat against arch-nemesis North Carolina in arguably sport’s greatest rivalry. He’s never played well in his previous three games in Chapel Hill. His coach characterized his step-back three under two minutes to put Duke ahead by 4 pretty accurately.

“That step back 3 was, uh, not bad,” said the legendary Mike Krzyzewski to ESPN.

I think it’s fair to say he got the monkey off his back.

If you are a basketball enthusiast – no matter whether you like him or hate him – you have to appreciate watching him play.

The way he can come off a pick and drill an off-balance three-pointer or watch him stop six feet behind the arc and hit nothing but net is a jaw-dropping experience.

Despite having the best shot in college basketball, he’s not even in the top-100 three-point shooters by percentage in the NCAA, shooting 43.8 percent (Illinois’ own Jamar Smith ranks No. 8 at 52 percent).

But he’s still the most dangerous player.

You can double-team him, triple-team him, whatever. It doesn’t matter – he’ll hit it when Duke needs it most.

Even in Duke’s one loss of the season, he poured in 41 against Georgetown.

And he does this all while being jeered and abused game after game.

I don’t think there’s an athlete in collegiate or professional sports that takes as much criticism and harassment as he does.

But in the end, he always gets the last laugh and breaks the opposing crowd’s hearts.

No matter how much I try to hate him, root against him and will him to miss shots, I always end up cheering for him in the end.

I feel bad saying that because we all know the only non-Cameron Crazie who is allowed to like him is Dick Vitale – in fact, I think he would have J.J.’s babies if it were physically possible -ÿbut I’m a fan. I would give anything for his jump shot.

But I still like Dee better.

Jon Gluskin is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]