CHAMPAIGN — The University of Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame as the Class of 2019, including a pair of basketball players with Telegraph-area connections.
Former Lewis and Clark Community College athletic director and men’s basketball coach Deon Thomas, as well as Madison High grad Don Freeman are among the athletes in this year’s hall of fame class.
Thomas was hired as the L&C athletics director and men’s basketball coach in 2009. He replaced Doug Stotler, who had moved to become the AD at Jefferson Community College in Hillsboro, Missouri
The career scoring leader at Illinois with 2,129 points, Thomas guided the athletics program at L&C from 2009 to 2014. He was a familiar sight at all Trailblazers athletic events, in addition to coaching the men’s basketball team.
“The position at Lewis and Clark was a good fit for for me,” Thomas said in a 2012 interview. “The people are great and it was an excellent opportunity for me.”
In his five seasons as coach, the Trailblazers were 78-76 overall and advanced to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament his first season. He later oversaw L&C’s move to NJCAA Division I status in men’s basketball.
Thomas left L&C to join the coaching staff at the University of Illinois-Chicago. He is now a commentator of Illini basketball broadcasts. In 2014, Stotler returned to L&C, replacing Thomas in both roles, AD and basketball coach.
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