Good Morning, Illini Nation: Kendall Gill and his goodwill golf idea | Sports

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 until practice tips off.

On Sundays, we’ll dip into our vast News-Gazette archives and stroll Memory Lane. Today: Kendall Gill’s golf outing through the years.

The 30th Kendall Gill Golf Benefit is July 8 and – to allow more participants – will play out on both the Orange and Blue layouts in Savoy. Gill will be joined by his wife Wendy and their sons, Phoenix and Kota, as well as his Hall of Fame coach, Lou Henson, and his wife Mary. UI coach Brad Underwood and AD Josh Whitman will join them for lunch.

Gill and Co. return every summer to benefit Cunningham Children’s Home, raising more than $500,000 through the years.

A look back in pictures:

Celebrating a recruit

At the 2016 outing in Savoy,John Groce and Josh Whitman hugged it out after receiving news that five-star prep center Jeremiah Tilmon had committed to the Illini. The celebration was for naught, it turned out, as Tillmon wound up at Missouri.

Gill in 2018

Kendall Gill at the 2018 outing soon before he was inducted into the UI’s Hall of Fame. Here’s why: A key part of the Flyin´ Illini team that reached the 1989 Final Four, Gill earned consensus second-team All-American accolades in 1990 and led the Big Ten in scoring that season. After a 15-year NBA career that saw him score 12,914 points, Gill lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Gill in 2008

The 2008 outing was held at Stone Creek Golf Course in Urbana. Here’s what organizer Sam Banks had to say about Gill: “He’s one of our heroes. He hasn’t forgotten the people and the places that have helped him get where he is today. Champaign-Urbana and the University of Illinois are part of that. (Cunningham Children’s Home is) a cause in the community he’s really close to. He has a heart for kids and a heart for the Champaign-Urbana community.”

Coaches past and present

In 2017, Hall of Famer Lou Henson and current  coach Brad Underwood talked shop during a break in the action. Henson has attended the event regularly – his presence is felt in a big way at Cunningham Children’s Home – and remains a popular draw.

It's a family affair

A growing family as seen in 2013: Kendall Gill with wife, Wendy Gill, and their two boys, Phoenix, 6, left, and Kota, 4.

Outing regulars: Mary and Lou Henson

In 2009, Lou and Mary Henson hung out at the 18th hole at the Orange Course to mingle with participants.

'That was one of the better times in my life'

In 2004, Kendall Gill had his golf game going during the event at Stone Creek Golf Club in Urbana. Why does he keep coming back? “I love the University of Illinois. I love Champaign-Urbana. That was one of the better times in my life, those four years that I spent there. All that the university gave me – the four-year scholarship, a degree, lifetime friendships – this is a way that I could give back.”

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