Tuesday, November 10, 2015 || By Michael Romain
These days, Proviso East basketball legend Dee Brown, (pictured above), “wears his hair short rather than in cornrows,” according to a recent Chicago Tribune article that was published in the Idaho Statesman.
The 31-year-old basketball star, who led the Fighting Illini to the NCAA championship game in 2005, harbors the mature ambitions of coaching or becoming an athletic director someday.
At the time the Tribune article came out, Brown was special assistant to University of Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas, who was fired Monday. After playing for three NBA teams and 10 teams overseas, the retired basketball player is ready to parlay his opportunity with Thomas into something more substantial.
And his infectious optimism may make it happen.
When Tribune reporter Shannon Ryan noted the university’s recent troubles — it “has gone through multiple scandals in the athletic department this year: a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by former women’s basketball players; the firing of football coach Tim Beckman amid an external investigation into mistreatment of players; and a lawsuit filed by a women’s soccer player who alleges she was mistreated for concussions” — Brown focused on the positive.
“Everyone knows I’m a positive guy,” he told Ryan. “Out of the one negative you give me about Illinois, I could give you 10 positives. I could spit them out quick.”
And he did, Shannon writes, noting that Brown “easily launches into descriptions of the renovated State Farm Center, the athletic facilities and the school’s academic reputation.”
It’s been ten years since Brown took the Illini to the pinnacle of college basketball, but the point guard is still the program’s face.
“”I’m on a team right now,” Brown told Ryan. “We’re trying to make this university thrive. We’ve got one common goal: That’s to make this university win.”
Hoop dreams in a homegrown league
Participants in Danka’s Men Basketball League participate in a second round playoff game. Below, Quinton Beasley during a pickup game. | Photos: Facebook
Beasley, a product of Irving Middle School (formerly Irving Elementary) and Proviso East High School, has started a full-blown basketball league for kids and adults — ages four to 40 years old.
After playing in middle school and high school, Beasley played college ball before his oversees career in Oviedo, Spain was cut short due to knee injuries.
Now, his ambitions have shifted.
“I wanted to give the kids and adults in my community something to look forward to and participate in,” Beasley said.
He created the league with longtime recreational advocate Patrick Winters and represents Maywood on a team comprising former Proviso East Pirates Everett Stubblefield, Nate Fuqua and Raymont Sharp.
“Some of the kids I know have a slight chance of making a team, so Patrick and I started this league just for them, so they can develop the skills and confidence to go the next level,” Beasley said.
“We saw the success we had with the kids and figured we should stretch it out a little more,” said Winters, who along with Beasley and several others facilitated a successful youth basketball tournament in August.
Along with the developmental league for children, Beasley and Winters started an adult league, called Danka Men’s Basketball League, that is year-round and divided into four 15-game seasons. There are about 16 teams and more than 160 players in the league. Each team pays a $250 registration fee.
Beasley said the leagues play in three locations, which vary; but all of the games are secured by Maywood police officers Aaron Peppers and Jevon Robinson. He said the kids play a part in the adult league by running concessions and taking score —opportunities that allow the kids to earn money.
Winters said he sees the league as a cycle that’s coming back around to its point of origin. He remembers when he was a kid playing basketball on Maywood’s concrete courts and on Proviso East’s hardwood.
When he got older, he began coaching. Beasley was around six or seven years old when Winters took him under his wings. Now, Beasley’s become a mentor to budding ball players in his own right.
Winters said he feels some momentum gathering within Maywood’s local hoops scene that could flourish into a full-fledged renaissance — a reversion back to the village’s golden days, when, as Winters recalls, young kids would miss curfew to get a glimpse of, and maybe even an opportunity to play against, legends like Isiah Thomas and Doc Rivers at 10th Park.
Although he cited the cooperation of various village departments and government agencies as one reason for the revitalization, he gave a lot of credit to Maywood’s first-year village manager Willie Norfleet, Jr., who he said “is giving us all the assistance we ask for” and to the men “who are stepping up and showing their faces — whether its basketball or wrestling or football or whatever.”
“Now, with the adult league, the whole family is getting in on this and everybody is able to see each other play,” Winter said. “This is not just changing lives on the court, but this is changing lives at home as well.”
For more information on Danka’s Men Basketball League, call (708) 506-2089. VFP
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