Calvin Brock has seen some extreme highs and lows in his Illinois career. His freshman year, he was on the team that made it to the NCAA Tournament Finals. Last year, he was part of one of the most frustrating years for the team, but he has helped reverse that result this year. He reflected recently on his career.
"I've been through one of the best years and one of the worst. To do as well as we did so far, I don't want to say I'm satisfied, but I didn't want to go out with a losing record. I've been competing hard each night and just giving it my all every time I step on the court."
Illinois coach Bruce Weber wasn't sure Calvin would make it this far.
"I didn't know he'd ever make it. I didn't think he'd make it to the fifth year. But he's got one degree, he's getting close to a second one and maybe finish up later on. He's accepted his role, he loves to play."
Weber describes Brock's decision to redshirt his freshman year.
"His freshman year, it was very tough for him to play with the 04-05 team. It was a tough decision. I know he didn't want to redshirt. We went back and forth. Actually, the first exhibition game, we asked him before the game and he said he still wanted to play.
"Somewhere in the first half of the game, he made the decision to redshirt. And then he ended up breaking his wrist, so it was a good decision. He probably wouldn't have gotten a lot of playing time with that group anyway."
The 6'-4.5" Chicago Simeon product remembers those times.
"I look back on it as a learning experience. When I thought about redshirting, I was down on myself because I knew I was gonna miss a year of basketball. It was hard for me to make the decision at first, but I learned a lot from a lot of the guys, learned a lot from the coaches. I could get better in the parts of my game I needed to work on.
"Overall, it was just a fun year. I got to practice against Dee (Brown), Deron (Williams) and Luther (Head) without the pressures of the game. Overall, that helped me a lot for my future."
Brock has outstanding athleticism, and he shows flashes of excellent shooting and rebounding. But a lack of consistency, especially with his ball handling and passing, have continued to limit him according to Weber.
"He'd show glimmers, and then he'd be a little bit inconsistent. I think that word always plagued him. I'm very proud of what he's done this year. He's done everything we've asked and been a real important member of our team.
"He's played a lot of positions for us. He's played 2, he's played 3, he's played 4. He's given us great energy off the bench. He comes to practice every day and competes. He loves to play. We do these mini practices, and sometimes we assign guys. He's constantly said he wanted to be in there."
Calvin realizes his versatility can be both a benefit and liability.
"I see my position as a small forward. I'm not the size of some who are 6'-6", 6'-7", so I'm a couple inches undersized. But otherwise, with my versatility I can play the 2, 3, or 4. I guess it hurts me some ways because I don't have a true position, but it helps me because I can sub in for a lot of people and get me a couple more minutes."
Brock is uncertain about his future, but he hopes basketball is a big part of it.
"Hopefully, I can continue playing basketball somewhere. If not, I'm thinking about going into coaching or just about anything sports related."