Kendall Gill Continues To Defy Aging Process

Illinois fans who were around to see the 1989 "Flying Illini" were in for a treat at the Alumni Game recently. Kendall Gill was a key member of that team and made an impressive return to the Assembly Hall. He felt right at home at his alma mater, and he played like a much younger man.

Kendall Gill enjoyed great success throughout his college and NBA career. A 15 year veteran of the NBA, Gill spent time with the Charlotte Hornets, Seattle SuperSonics, New Jersey Nets, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Milwaukee Bucks and his hometown Chicago Bulls. Since then, he has boxed professionally and served as an analyst for Comcast SportsNet in Chicago.

Gill, now in his 40's, is a husband and a father. He seems to be enjoying life after basketball.

"I'm living a hard life, going to bed early. I have two little boys now, and I take them around a lot. It keeps me in shape."

Those Illinois fans fortunate enough to have seen the "Flying Illini" in action remembered what Gill and his teammates were able to accomplish in their respective careers. That appreciation showed through when Gill took the court for the Alumni Game.

"It's great. It lets me know that I chose the right school to go to. Out of all the schools I thought about going to, this is definitely the right one. I wouldn't change a thing.

"To have the fan support and see all the people come back and see us play, it's a great feeling."

Gill was placed on an alumni team with '04-'05 Illini Dee Brown, Deron Williams, James Augustine, Roger Powell and Jack Ingram. He admits teams were a bit lopsided, but he didn't mind.

"I think the deck was kind of stacked, but I'm not complaining. We won."

Many expected Gill to be a rusty and sluggish of the gate, but after sinking two early baskets on assists from Brown and Williams, it was clear he came ready to play.

"I actually played earlier today, so I was actually in a basketball mode. I came out for this game, and I was kind of going the same way I was earlier this afternoon."

Because former Illini players are scattered all over the globe, it can be tough for them all to unite in one location. Gill says the opportunity to reunite so many Illinois greats is one he truly cherishes.

"It means everything because it keeps our basketball tradition together. All of the Illini greats. The guys that played here get a chance to come back and see everybody. The fans get a chance to see all of the past players and current players in the NBA like Deron Williams. It's a great feeling to get back and feel this camaraderie.

"It's not often. We probably see each other once every three or four years. It means everything. Everyone's out here having fun. A lot of these guys can still play, and a lot of these guys are in great shape."

Gill experienced a lot of success in his time at Illinois. He and his teammates knew what it took to play as a team and win. They made the Final Four Gill's junior year. He shared his insight into this year's Illinois squad, especially junior guards D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul.

"I think we're on solid ground. Brandon Paul and D J Richardson, all the upperclassmen, have to take the lead and become leaders. I think if they can do it, we'll be put right back on the map as one of the top teams in the Big Ten and in the country. But those two guys right there, that's where all the pressure lays on their shoulders right now."

A couple of the other former Illini teased Gill before the game, saying he was washed up. Gill led all alumni scorers and offered his rebuttal with a smile.

"Washed up? As you can see right now, that's not true. I just come out here and play my hardest and hope for the best. This is my fourth time playing in about a year. I don't play that often. I don't even play golf. I just work out and keep myself in shape."

Gill is not only a great basketball player but also a great representative of Illinois basketball. His return to the Hall proved that he truly cares about the program and will always be a proud Illini.


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