Happy 35th, Fred Wakefield

Happy 35th, Fred Wakefield


Illini Legends, Lists & Lore: Tony Yates

Tony Yates, one of Lou Henson’s first assistant basketball coaches, celebrates his 76th birthday Sunday. After a spectacular prep career in Cincinnati, he served in the Air Force for four years. At age 23, Yates walked on at the University of Cincinnati and started at point guard for Bearcats coach Ed Jucker. The team’s most valuable defensive player, Yates helped lead Cincinnati to NCAA championships in 1961 and ’62 and a near miss of a third consecutive crown in 1963, his senior season. During those three seasons, Cincinnati went 82-7. After his graduation from Cincinnati, Yates spent three years in business and public service, then two more scouting for the Cincinnati Royals before returning to his alma mater in 1972 to become an assistant coach. He became Gene Bartow’s assistant at Illinois in 1974 then stayed for eight more seasons with Henson, through 1982-83. He was an outstanding recruiter for the Illini, bringing such players as Audie Matthews, Eddie Johnson, Mark Smith and Derek Harper to play for the Orange and Blue. Yates became the Bearcats’ head coach in 1983, serving six seasons and winning 70 times in 170 games. In 1985, he was inducted into the Bearcats’ Athletics Hall of Fame. Yates resides in Cincinnati and heads up his Caring for Kids Foundation.


Illini Birthdays

Sunday: David Diehl, football (33)

Monday: Becky Beach, basketball, golf

Tuesday: Fred Wakefield, football (35)

Wednesday: Jessica Levitt, soccer (27)

Thursday: Rich Brooks, track (59)

Friday: Peter Palmer, football (82)

Saturday: Martez Wilson, football (25)


—By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore

—Get Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter @B1GLLL and on Facebook at Big Ten Legends, Lists & Lore


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