Hall of Fame Gala: Happy return for Deron Williams

Hall of Fame Gala: Happy return for Deron Williams

CHICAGO — Deron Williams couldn’t make it to last year’s Hall of Fame Gala or in-season induction ceremony. He was still in pro basketball mode.

But when Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman called and asked him to come this year, the star of the 2005 NCAA runner-up team jumped at the chance.

“There have been a lot of great athletes that have come to the University of Illinois,” Williams said. “To be honored in the inaugural class means a lot.”

Williams looks to be in playing shape. These days, he is hanging out with his family and golfing a lot. He also picked up skiing, which would have been difficult to try during his NBA career.

Williams spent time this week with former teammate Dee Brown.

“It was good to see him,” Brown said.

Williams said he is thrilled to see Lou Henson go in the Hall.

“He’s  a legend,” Williams said. “I don’t know how he didn’t get in last year. It definitely baffles me. He definitely is deserving of it. He’s a legend in the sport and here at the University of Illinois.”

Williams came back to C-U this year for the Rutgers game. It was his first visit in a couple of years.

“Hopefully, I can get back more,” Williams said, “I definitely really like Josh Whitman. I like Coach (Brad) Underwood. I had a chance to spend time with them recently. That’s helped. I wasn’t too fond of the last AD and how things were handled with Bruce (Weber) and Jerrance Howard and some other guys. I didn’t come around much.”