Good Morning, Illini Nation: 'He played at a really high level'

May 22—Brandin Podziemski was in rather elite company earlier this week as an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection. Only Chet Holmgren, Victory Wembanyama, Brandon Miller and Jaime Jaquez Jr. received more first-place votes than the former Illinois guard.

Podziemski, of course, finished his two-year college career at Santa Clara. It was with the Broncos, of course, where Podziemski turned into a first-round pick. After appearing in 16 games as a freshman at Illinois — and even then averaging just 4.3 minutes per game — the Muskego, Wis., native turned into the West Coast Conference Player of the Year at Santa Clara putting up 19.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

The Golden State Warriors selected Podziemski with 19th overall pick in last year's NBA draft, and he fairly quickly carved out a role in the rotation. All-Rookie First Team honors came after Podziemski averaged 9.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists as a 45/38/63 shooter.

It was a level of playing time and production that surprised even an ardent supporter like former Illinois teammate Coleman Hawkins.

"It did surprise me," Hawkins said last week at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. "I knew he was going to play, but I thought he played at a really high level this year. I feel like he just did a great job defensively and offensively. He played well taking charges, flying around and just playing hard. You can see out there he was playing extremely hard for sure."