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Thursday, March 1, 2012
Assembling Illinois' ideal high-major team

By Scott Powers

Meyers Leonard
Meyers 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.