Deon ThomasEAST ALTON – Fighting Illini basketball great Deon Thomas will be the featured guest at an Illinois RiverWatch virtual fundraiser on Thursday, Feb. 18, hosted by the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center.

During the presentation, entitled “Illini Basketball: Past, Present and Future,” Thomas will share his unique perspective about the team during this exciting season.

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“Everyone is really excited about what Illini basketball is doing this year,” Thomas said. “I hope to provide some insight into the team and individual players from someone who covers them on Illinois sports radio.”

Thomas, who served as L&C’s athletic director and men’s head basketball coach from 2009-2014, still holds the record as Illini basketball’s all-time leading scorer with 2,129 points. Among his many honors, he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors three times from 1992-94, after being named to the third team in 1991. He was named team MVP each of his final three seasons. He was named to the Illinois All-Century Team in 2005 and was inducted into the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019. He was the first pick in the second round of the 1994 NBA draft before beginning a successful 14-year international pro career. He helped Tel Aviv win the Israel championship, the Israeli Cup and the EuroLeague championship, twice.

Thomas is considered one of the most successful American pros of all time in the European leagues. Currently, he is an analyst for the Big Ten Network and Fighting Illini Sports Network.

RiverWatch Director and Stream Ecologist Danelle Haake appreciates Thomas’ support of Illinois RiverWatch.

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“I am thrilled at the opportunity to partner with Mr. Thomas,” Haake said. “While I know the audience will be there to meet with him, I look forward to connecting with attendees who might also be interested in the work that RiverWatch does to protect water quality in Illinois.”

The event will feature a general admission presentation from Thomas from 6-7:30 p.m., followed by a 30-minute VIP discussion, during which fans will have the opportunity to ask questions.

General admission tickets to this virtual event are $25 and are available at

VIP ticket auctions are open now and can be found at

The Illinois RiverWatch Network safeguards the future of Illinois rivers and streams through stewardship, education and sound science. RiverWatch utilizes trained volunteers to collect quality assured data on wadable streams and fosters coordination among groups involved in similar monitoring efforts.

For more information on this event or Illinois RiverWatch, please visit or contact Haake at (618) 468-2784 or

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