The Fighting Illini went 20-15 overall, recording the 31st 20-win
season in program history and the second in as many years under head
coach John Groce. The Illini entered the season with just three
returning scholarship letter-winners to go along with nine
newcomers, but ended up earning a No. 2 seed in the NIT, where they
advanced to the second round. And Groce's UI squad once again played
its best basketball at the end of the year, winning four of the last
five regular-season games and six of the last nine overall.
Receiving special recognition at the banquet were seniors Joseph
Bertrand and Jon Ekey. Bertrand ranked third on the Illini team in
scoring, with an average of 8.5 points, and was fourth on the team
in rebounding, with an average of 3.8 boards. Ekey, meanwhile, was
the team's fourth-leading scorer, with an average of 7.3 points, and
the third-leading rebounder, with an average of 4.8 boards. The two
seniors were co-recipients of the 6th-Man Award. In addition, Ekey
won the Orange Krush 3-Point Shooting Award for leading the Illini
with 36.6 percent accuracy from behind the arc, making a team-high
59 treys in 161 attempts.
Ekey, Nnanna Egwu and Malcolm Hill received the TNT Award, given
to the players who grade out at 70 percent or better over the course
of the season on defense and rebounding. This marked the second
consecutive season that Egwu has earned the TNT Award.
Rayvonte Rice was named Most Outstanding Player. An honorable
mention all-Big Ten selection, Rice led the Illini and ranked eighth
in the league in scoring at 15.9 points per game. He scored in
double figures 31 times, with 10 performances of 20-plus points, led
by a career-high 29 points versus Indiana on Dec. 31. Rice also was
11th in the league in rebounding (6.0 rpg) and sixth in the
conference in steals (1.7 spg).
Egwu won the Illini Rebounding Award, presented by the Rebounders
booster club, for leading the team with 211 boards. Egwu edged out
Rice by a mere one rebound over the course of the 35-game season to
win the award.
Tracy Abrams earned the Ralf Woods Free Throw Trophy, presented
by the UI Alumni Association, for ranking first on the team in
free-throw shooting during conference play at 78.7 percent, making
48 of 61 from the stripe.
Three players shared the award for Most Improved Player: Hill,
Kendrick Nunn and Aaron Cosby. Hill moved into the starting lineup
for the last 12 games, averaging 6.5 points over that stretch. Nunn
was a Big Ten All-Freshman selection who also started the final 12
games, averaging 10.3 points as a starter. Cosby, meanwhile, made
significant strides in practice while sitting out the season as a
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Rounding out the hardware, Egwu and Ekey received the Matt Heldman "Matto"
Award, Egwu earned the Kenny Battle Leadership Award, and Abrams took
home the Lou Henson Courage Award.
2013-14 Fighting Illini basketball awards
TNT Award: Nnanna
Egwu, Jon Ekey, Malcolm Hill
Player: Rayvonte Rice
Matt Heldman "Matto"
Award: Nnanna Egwu, Jon Ekey
Leadership Award: Nnanna Egwu
Lou Henson Courage
Award: Tracy Abrams
Player: Aaron Cosby, Malcolm Hill, Kendrick Nunn
Joseph Bertrand, Jon Ekey
3-Point Shooting Award (minimum one made per game): Jon Ekey
Ralf Woods Free
Throw Trophy (minimum two made per game): Tracy Abrams (.787 in
Illini Rebounding Award: Nnanna Egwu
(211 rebounds, 6.0 rpg)
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