Editor’s note: This is the seventh of 10 stories detailing the exploits of players and coaches nominated for SIU’s All-Century basketball team.
By the late 1990s, the SIU basketball program found itself in transition once again.
After seven straight postseason appearances, the Salukis endured a four-year drought from 1996 to 1999.
However, a handful of Saluki greats overlapped the hiccup of the late 90s and formed the nucleus for the great teams of the early 21st century.
Pinckneyville’s Shane Hawkins arrived on the scene in 1995. Over the next four years, Hawkins scored 1,384 points, 16th all-time. He also dished out 435 assists in his career, third to Wayne Abrams and Bryan Mullins. Hawkins is SIU’s all-time leader in 3-point baskets made.
His signature performance was the seven 3-pointers he made against Syracuse in the 1995 NCAA tournament.
Carbondale’s Troy Hudson returned home in 1996 after initially enrolling at the University of Missouri. He went on to re-write the SIU 3-point records.
Hudson scored 1,164 points in just 55 games in an SIU uniform, a 21.2 average. He went on to play 11 years in the NBA.
He holds the SIU record for most 3-point goals made in a season, 134 in 1996-97. He made 11 treys in a 1995 game against Hawaii-Hilo.
Hudson was a second-team All-MVC selection in 1997. He was named to the All-Newcomer team in 1996.
The Salukis added another local talent in 1999 when Mount Vernon’s Kent Williams enrolled. Williams became one of the most prolific scorers in SIU.
A hard-nosed guard, Williams scored 2,012 points, one of just two players to top the 2,000-point plateau. Only Chico Vaughn scored more points in an SIU uniform.
Williams also dished out 352 assists, eighth all-time.
He appeared in two NCAA tournaments, was a two-time All-MVC performer and was a second team selection on one other occasion.
In 2000, he was named both the Freshman of the Year and the Newcomer of the Year by the MVC. Williams was also a first-team scholar-athlete selection. He was inducted into the SIU Hall of Fame in 2010.
Monte Jenkins’ SIU career spanned the 1996-99 seasons.
Jenkins played 115 games in an SIU uniform, scoring 1,245 points, 23rd on the all-time list. In addition to being a prolific scorer, Jenkins was named the Valley’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1999. He was named the league’s Most Improved Player in both 1997 and 1999 as well as being an All-MVC selection in 1999.
Jenkins also ranks 18th all-time in assists.
Chris Thunnell of O’Fallon made his mark in the lane from 1998-00. He scored 1,008 points and pulled down 665 rebounds in his career. He ranks 40th all-time in scoring and 14th in rebounding.
Thunnell made the Valley’s 1998 All-Newcomer team.
Jermaine Dearman came to SIU in 1999 and was one of the team’s cornerstone players through the 2003 season.
Dearman is 12th all-time in scoring with 1,446 points and eighth-leading rebounder at 882.
Remarkably, Dearman was never an All-Valley selection. He was named to the All-MVC second team in 2003.
Dearman played in two NCAA tournaments for SIU, including the team’s Sweet 16 run in 2002.
Fans can vote on the All-Century team at www.siusalukis.com, beginning Nov. 2.
firstname.lastname@example.org / 618-351-5088