Gill on Illini: 'Right back in the thick of things'

SAVOY — There are a few things Kendall Gill knows for sure.

The former Illinois basketball star is certain his former program is headed in the right direction.

He knows he’s got a gig as an analyst at NBA TV this upcoming season.

His time with Comcast SportsNet, though, might be done.

“I really don’t know what the future holds there,” Gill said Monday prior to the 24th Kendall Gill Golf Outing at the University of Illinois Orange and Blue Courses benefiting Cunningham Children’s Home.

Gill, who worked as a studio analyst on Chicago Bulls broadcasts, was suspended from the network in late March after a physical altercation with former Northwestern basketball player Tim Doyle.

“It was just something that happened. They made their decision and I made mine and that’s where it is right now,” Gill said. “That’s a part of life. You don’t ever want those things to happen, but when a situation happens, you just have no other choice.”

Regardless of whether he returns to Comcast, Gill has retained his job as an analyst with NBA TV. Last week, he worked the NBA Summer League games in Orlando, Fla.

Since the incident with Doyle, Gill has received plenty of support from his friends, particularly former Illinois teammate Stephen Bardo, who will begin his first season as an analyst with the Big Ten Network after leaving ESPN, and CBS Chicago sports director Ryan Baker, a former Illini manager.

“Those are my guys. They’re some of my best friends in the world,” Gill said. “I told them what happened, we discussed it, they gave me some advice and we moved on.”

Wearing orange Illinois basketball shorts and an orange Illini polo, Gill battled the heat index hovering close to triple digits and kicked some rust off his suspect golf game. Monday’s outing was also an opportunity to catch up with former coach Lou Henson and his wife, Mary, as well as some old friends and supporters.

“I always enjoy seeing my extended Illini family,” Gill said. “It’s great. They’re doing it for a good cause, and any time you can do something to help out and give back, of course you do it. My part was a long time ago. The people that should be given all the credit are the Cunningham staff continuing to make this thing grow and putting on this outing every year and having the communication with the people donating money and sponsoring it.”

As he’s done each year for the last 23 years since leaving Illinois, Gill, who spent 15 years in the NBA, has kept tabs on the basketball program. Like so many Illini fans, Gill is excited about the future under John Groce.

“I texted him after the last game in the NCAA tournament and told him, ‘Good job and thanks for putting us back on the map,’ ” Gill said. “With his enthusiasm, his ability to coach, recruit, we’re going to be right back in the thick of things as one of the top programs in the country.”

All Groce has to do, Gill said, is to continue to hit the recruiting trail hard. He said it’s just a matter of time before the Illini start landing program-changing players in the mold of Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander.

“All it takes is one, and once we get one of those, I think the pipeline will be reopened to Chicago,” Gill said.

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