Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team.
On Sundays, we’ll dip into our vast News-Gazette archives and stroll Memory Lane. Today: With Illinois playing Hawaii at 7 p.m. Monday, a look back at the Illini's last three trips to the islands.
Six-time NBA champion and Hall of Fame guard Michael Jordan rocked his orange and blue in Maui in 2007 watching his son, Jeff, play for Illinois. The younger Jordan played a minimal roll off the bench in the tournament.
Start of a career
Demetri McCamey finished his Illinois career sixth among the program's all-time scoring leaders before being passed by Malcolm Hill. The 2007-08 season, though, was his first. He backed up Chester Frazier in Maui, finishing with six points against Arizona State and a team-high six assists against Oklahoma State.
Pretty fair showing
Illinois beat Arizona State and Oklahoma State in Maui. Not a bad showing for Bruce Weber's bunch. His reaction in the above photo, though, came in the Illini's 13-point loss to No. 13 Duke.
An 84-61 victory against Chaminade was one of two blowouts for Illinois to start the 2012 Maui Invitational along with a 30-pointer against Southern California. D.J. Richardson had 11 points against Chaminade in the Illini's balanced win.
The 2012-13 season was John Groce's first at Illinois. It was also his best. The Illini went 23-13, won the Maui Invitational and made the NCAA tournament. That was also the last time Illinois was in the NCAA tournament.
Show up, show out
Illinois has always drawn well in Maui. That was certainly the case in 2012, with the Illini fans treated to a tournament victory.
Island life treated Brandon Paul well. The Illinois guard was named the Maui MVP and had 20 points, four assists and three rebounds in the championship game against Butler.
Back at it
Last season's Maui Invitational was Illinois coach Brad Underwood's second. His Oklahoma State team went 2-1 in 2018, beating UConn and Georgetown with a 107-75 loss to North Carolina in the middle.
The Illini ultimately went 0-3 in Maui last season, but they put a scare in Gonzaga on the first night of the tournament. The Bulldogs held on for an 84-78 victory, but Trent Frazier made them earn it with a 29-point game.
Tough to stomach
Losses to Iowa State and Xavier closed out Illinois' Maui run last November. That one-time Illini recruiting target Talen Horton-Tucker dropped 26 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in Iowa State's 84-68 victory was a bit of a blow.