Disagree on 5. Deon and Cook were obviously better players as Illini and so was Augie IMO. That's in no way a knock on Meyers, as the others were given the chance to develop their games over 4 years, while ML suffered under a coach and teammates who would not give him the ball for the one year he got any tick. JMO.
Anyway, I think 5 years from now, in retrospect, we will view Leonard as the finest C specimen the school has produced in the last few decades. He is just beginning to blossom as a player.
I like those guy but they are not anywhere close to Meyers as to the type of player he should've been here. Meyers was not the player he should have been here and the experts validated that by making him a lotto pick despite his situation here and because of his ability.
Don't disagree as to the potential (your "should have been") Meyers had (and hopefully still has). He came in a bit raw, hardly played in year 1 and had a coach who wouldn't put the ball in the hands of a freakly athletic 7 foot high 1st round NBA center, so his two years as an Illini should have been much better through no fault of his own. But this thread is entitled "Best Illini All-time Starting Lineup", implying, at least to me, we're talking about performances/records/careers of players in college as Illini. ML is fairly far down on that list, to me. (My list for best careers as Illini is Frankie, Deron, Nick A., Spoon and Deon. Harper next in line; very close between him and either of the two Williams.) Another good thread could be "Best Illini careers in the NBA". That list, to me, as of today, is Harper, Deron, Nick A., Eddie J., and Gill. (Red Kerr next in line.)
I still can't believe people are choosing Meyers over Red Kerr, a guy who scored 25ppg for a Final Four team and is in the hall of fame.
really enjoyed this post by Robert about Richard Keene - http://illiniboard.com/2015/02/19/pick-my-post-richard-keene/
Nice post indeed!
I have fond memories of Keene's playing days at Collinsville. He actually broke his wrist just before Christmas Day his Sr. year and missed a good chunk of time, so there was some doubt as to whether he would still make the McDonald's All-American game roster, but more importantly, help Collinsville make a run to State.
But he healed quickly, and they made it to the Elite 8, facing undefeated Proviso East (the eventual champ), led by jet-quick PG, Kenny Davis. In fact, that Proviso East team was made up primarily of 6-2 to 6-4 speed demons that pressed Collinsville all game long. The Kahoks ended up losing in a heartbreaker at the end, after they came back from the dead led by an amazing display of shooting by Keene in the 2nd half.
Keene's handles were extraordinary for a 6-5 kid, and he was super lanky back then (maybe 180 lbs), which allowed him to dribble, dish and shoot effortlessly. There was an article that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times (penned by Taylor Bell), shortly after Keene chose Illinois over Duke, where Lou Henson called him the best passer he'd ever recruited, and comparisons to a poor man's Pete Maravich were bandied about by certain scouts. He was a Top 10 player in Bob Gibbons' final rankings for the 1992 class.
Then came the "college experience," wherein he completely remade his body (by his sophomore year), became a pretty boy party animal - "Elvis is in the house" - with his incessant fixation on adjusting his moussed up hair during games. And what was once a fleet-footed, almost svelte "do-it-all" guard who possessed superb handles, unbelievable court vision, limitless shooting range, and got to the FT line at will, now at 6 feet 6 inches, became a muscular, 210 lb. stilted echo of his former self. He lost so much of his mobility and aggressiveness during his physical transformation, and his priorities seemed misguided. He averaged a little over 1 FT attempt per game for his entire career at Illinois. That stat alone speaks volumes.
He's the poster child for why packing on too much muscle, and becoming a campus favorite for reasons other than basketball, can derail the immense potential of a talented athlete.
Still, there were a fair share of highlights during his UI career, but the one that stood out to me most was during his freshman year, playing Michigan and their inaugural "Fab Five" where he almost single-handedly willed an overmatched Illinois team to victory in a heart-wrenching 98-97 OT loss at Assembly Hall. Jalen Rose spoke very highly of Keene after that impressive showing. Keene was instrumental in helping Illinois qualify for the NCAA tourney his freshman season, after the school endured 2 straight years of probation and post-season bans.
Make no mistake about it, Keene had all the natural tools to become a "Poor Man's Maravich."
They are the best college team Ive ever watched play in my time.
Like I said, my selection is not based on their Illini career. That was a different era, different game. In todays game, Meyers would destroy him.