Maybe we have a bit of a bias, but the Illini Inquirer basketball analyst fits the profile better than anyone. He's a broadcaster on the rise with years of experience covering college basketball at the Big Ten Network and ESPN. He knows the Illini program and Big Ten basketball better than anyone else on this list. The only issue is that Harrington now lives in Florida, so traveling to the Midwest for 30+ games per year would be difficult. The timing hasn't line up perfectly due to logisitics, but based on experience and credentials, Harrington would be a no-brainer.
The former Illini guard and Champaign native had considered retirement from his overseas career in previous years but was pulled back to play a while longer in France. Meacham previously has expressed a desire to move back to central Illinois with his wife. Meacham would fit the arc of Hester, who joined Illinois after a long overseas playing career despite little broadcasting experience.
The former Illini, who wrapped up a great overseas career, which included a spot on the 2012 United Kingdom Olympic team, and is now running an insurance agency in the northwest Chicago suburbs. The Scottish big man has a career of great experience -- Big Ten, NBA and overseas -- and has kept a close eye on the Illini as well, so the transition would seem minimal. Archibald would provide great knowledge, personality and a little bit of humor to the broadcast. And who doesn't like a hint of a Scottish accent?
The former Illini (2011-12) and Bradley point guard doesn't have much experience as a color analyst, but he's always had interest in a broadcasting career and has made frequent radio appearances on "The Tay and J Show" on ESPN Radio 93.5 in Champaign to talk Illini basketball and NBA. Maniscalco displays a great knowledge of the game and a willingness for candor. Maniscalco lives and works in Chicagoland, so the logistics work out too.
The former Illini big man recently stepped down from his post as UIC assistant coach. The ever-positive and smiling Thomas has one of the most beloved personalities among former Illini. He's made his home in his native Illinois since his long overseas career, mostly in Israel. He'd likely be an easy and enjoyable listen with his distinct voice.
Like Thomas, Mast recently stepped away from coaching to join the insurance industry in central Illinois. The former Illini walk-on who played under Lon Kruger and Bill Self is a Champaign native, had success as the head coach at local Parkland Community College and recently served as the director of basketball operations at Southern Illinois. The hometown kid knows the game and has a confident, familiar voice when breaking down the game.
Most who know the former Illini sharpshooter think he'll hoop until his mid-40s. The 37-year-old most recently played in Colombia. He has played high-level basketball all over the globe for decades and would bring a high IQ to a broadcast. And fans, who remember him as one of the key figures in the renaissance of Illinois basketball under Kruger and Self.
The former Illini great is the biggest name draw on this list. The 1990 No. 5 overall pick is back with CSN Chicago as a Chicago Bulls pregame, halftime and post-game analyst. With the NBA and college seasons overlapping and the Bulls gig taking precedence, it'd probably be tough for Gill to fit both gigs into his schedule.