Assembling Illinois' ideal high-major team

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
4:33
PM CT
Meyers Leonard Rick Osentoski/US PresswireMeyers Leonard is averaging 13.4 points and 8.1 rebounds for Illinois this season.
DePaul, Illinois and Northwestern haven’t cut it completely as individual teams this season, and there’s a growing chance all three could be shut out of the NCAA tournament.

As I watched Ohio State grab rebound after rebound on Wednesday, it made me think all Northwestern was missing was a big man like Illinois’ Meyers Leonard.

That thought led me to this: If you could assemble one team (starters and bench) from all three of the state’s high-major teams, who would you choose?

Here’s my team:

Starting point guard: DePaul sophomore Brandon Young
Explanation: Northwestern’s David Sobolewski is more of a natural point guard, but he’s still a freshman and Young is more skilled at this point of his career. Young could also move over to the shooting guard if needed.

Starting shooting guard: Northwestern junior Drew Crawford
Explanation: I was torn between Crawford and Illinois’ Brandon Paul for this position. I chose Crawford because he has been more consistent during the Big Ten season.

Starting forward: Northwestern senior John Shurna
Explanation: I also considered starting Paul at the small forward, but I ended up going with a bigger starting lineup to help with rebounding.

Starting forward: DePaul sophomore Cleveland Melvin
Explanation: Melvin and Shurna are interchangeable small and power forwards. Both are probably closer to small forwards, but are versatile and big enough to play both positions.

Starting center: Illinois sophomore Meyers Leonard
Explanation: Leonard was the easiest choice. He is by far the best center of the three teams.

Sub 1: Illinois junior guard/small forward Brandon Paul
Explanation: Paul is the obvious sixth man if he’s not starting.

Sub 2: Illinois junior guard D.J. Richardson
Explanation: Richardson provides a reliable defender and shooter off the bench.

Sub 3: Northwestern freshman guard David Sobolewski
Explanation: Sobolewski or Illinois freshman Tracy Abrams could fill the backup point guard position. I felt like Sobolewski deserved it after starting the whole season for Northwestern.

Sub 4: DePaul senior center Krys Faber
Explanation: Faber's 4.8 rebounds is better than the other true big men. Northwestern senior Luka Mirkovic was the other option.

Sub 5: Northwestern junior guard Reggie Hearn
Explanation: Hearn is an energy player who will get you points and rebounds.

Sub 6: DePaul sophomore forward Moses Morgan
Explanation: Morgan provides another shooter off the bench.

Sub 7: Illinois junior Tyler Griffey
Explanation: Another shooter, Griffey also has size and can be put inside if needed.
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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