UNLV senior guard Kendall Wallace never really was an Illini fan even though his roots grew deep in Illinois.
TULSA, Okla. -- UNLV senior guard Kendall Wallace never really was an Illini fan even though his roots grew deep in Illinois.
His grandfather, Loren Wallace, won 683 basketball games as coach at Quincy, Lincoln, Nokomis and Bloomington high schools, and Kendall lived in Springfield while his father, Jeff, coached at Chatham Glenwood and Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin high schools nearly 15 years ago.
"I had a couple shirts back in the day, but I was never the big Illinois fan,'' he said. "All my family were Illinois fans.''
So Kendall pulled for North Carolina, especially with Vince Carter.
When No. 9 Illinois (19-13) plays No. 8 UNLV (24-8) in the NCAA tournament Friday at the BOK Center, Wallace won't play against Illinois while missing the season recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee suffered in an open gym in August. He chose UNLV over St. Mary's after playing his prep ball in suburban Phoenix, but Wallace remembers those days playing at Knight's Action Park, watching the City Tournament at the Prairie Capital Convention Center and living in the Hyde Park neighborhood.
"There were some good times,'' said Wallace, who attended school in Chatham schools for three years. He plans to return for a fifth season next year. He's a designated shooter for the Rebels.
STAYS IN VEGAS: While sophomore guard D.J. Richardson returned home from Las Vegas after spending a season at Findlay College Prep in the Vegas suburbs, his former teammate Carolos Lopez chose to play at UNLV. They traded texts just after the pairing was announced Sunday.
"We were basically all roommates,'' said Richardson, the native of Peoria. "We lived in a big house and had separate rooms with two people in a room. He was a real good guy and a real good teammate.''
Richardson and Lopez had plenty of experience with UNLV.
"They played just like we did in prep school,'' Richardson said. "We got players from them. We were aggressive on defense. We learned a lot of thnigs from them. We scrimmaged them one time in an open gym.''
NO PRESSURE: For the second straight season, Kansas was the choice by President Barack Obama to win the NCAA tournament, but the Jayhawks were also Obama's pick on his bracket last season after Kansas was the top-ranked team for the majority of the season before losing to Northern Iowa in the second round.
"It shows how much he knows, right'' said Kansas point guard Brady Morningstar while breaking into a chuckle. "I don't feel any added pressure, but I'd like to get to meet him in a couple weeks.''
John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.