By Molly Cline
Basketball fans may know Dee Brown from his career as a collegiate basketball player at the University of Illinois from 2002-2006. Most notable was the 2004-05 Illinois basketball season, where Brown was dubbed the “One-Man Fast Break.” Throughout that season, Brown and his teammates went 37-2, becoming the team with most wins in Illinois basketball history.
Fighting Illini Athletics made an anniversary video in 2015 for the 10th anniversary of the 2004-05 Fighting Illini basketball season.
“I would just tell people that being recruited by Bill Self and having the opportunity to come to Illinois was a dream come true and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have come to the University of Illinois,” said Brown.
He said his favorite part about attending the University of Illinois was the relationships he made. “They are still my closest friends since the day I met them here.” He described his teammates as family, like a fraternity.
Throughout his four years at the University of Illinois, Brown became the most successful player in Illinois history with 114 wins; he led in all-time minutes with 4,698, and he started the most number of games with 136 starts.
After various stints in the NBA and professional ball overseas, Brown retired from playing professional basketball in September 2015. Almost immediately after retiring, Brown signed a contract with the University of Illinois as a special assistant to Athletic Director Mike Thomas, where he spent the 2015-16 basketball season in that position.
More recently, Brown was assigned the job of Director of Player Development and Alumni Relations. He said he focuses on film watching and off-court stuff. Brown maintains a database of former players with their contact information to keep up communications between the university and alumni. With the current players, Brown reaches out to the community to get them involved. They have gone to schools to talk to kids there and have participated in various other community events.
“I hold meetings with a lot of them (current basketball players) to talk about life and basketball and help them in any way I can,” Brown said.
In addition, Brown does on-campus recruiting. When John Groce, University of Illinois Men’s head basketball coach, gets prospective players to come visit campus, Brown encourages them to come play for the University of Illinois.
“My sell pitch is stressing education. I stress diversity amongst our scholars on campus. I sell the program as far as having the best fans in the country. I sell the $169 million renovation to the State Farm Center. I love playing in that building. Also, just the overall program. We have the number one living alumni in the nation and it does so much for you after you play basketball,” said Brown.
Throughout his collegiate career, Brown was able to make the University of Illinois his home. It will surely remain his home for years to come.
Photo courtesy of Molly Cline