Jay Simpson | What a season by the Illini

Apr. 3—What a season to remember. Although it was cut short just one win from the Final Four, I would like to say how proud I am of the Illinois men's basketball program.

This has been a great ride, and I've enjoyed watching that team compete all season.

Brad Underwood is one of the best coaches in the country and an even better person. He allowed his team to be themselves and have fun while doing so as long as they never lost sight of the big picture, and they didn't. Underwood mentioned this was the most fun he's ever had with any group of guys that he's coached, and I could tell he enjoyed being around them.

I've never seen a coach celebrate a win with a shirtless water gun fight, and some people may think it was a little over the top, but it was as genuine as it could get. He was living in the moment with the guys he competes with every day and that's something you want in a coach as a player.

Thank you to all of the seniors for leading the way they did all season and giving the young boys the blueprint to being a winner while having the utmost fun doing so. This was big for not only the university, but for the whole community. It was a good feeling seeing how excited the whole town was for the success of the team. It brought us all together in a sense and this is what it's all about if you ask me.

There used to be a bubble around the campus life and campus and the town seemed like two totally different places, but now it seems more family-oriented, if that makes sense. It is not rare for a townie to have a relationship with the players or coaches nowadays because the culture is changing for the better.

I'm excited to see what the summer holds for the team as far as the newcomers and players they get from the transfer portal. I'm also anxious to see what's in store for the seniors. I'm sure they will all play professionally and have their shot at living out their dreams. I may bleed black and gold from my days at Purdue, but I'll be an Illini fan for life.

Much love.