He came storming out of the Illinois huddle like an Indy 500 driver who just saw the green flag.
And he crashed into Indiana’s Eric Gordon on turn one.
Gordon first verbally committed to Illinois in November of 2005 before having a change of heart and signing on with Indiana in October of 2006. In the intervening months, IU had hired new head coach Kelvin Sampson, and he proceeded to recruit Gordon, much to the ire of Illini head coach Bruce Weber. That whole turn of events led to one of the more memorable regular season basketball games in IU history when the Hoosiers visited Illinois in February of 2008.
And at the center of the story was new Illinois assistant coach Chester Frazier.
With the sold out Illinois crowd foaming at the mouth with hatred for Gordon, Frazier set off the fireworks with a sprint towards the midcourt line to greet Gordon during player introductions.
What was supposed to be a fist bump turned into a chest bump, and a surprised Gordon was rocked back several steps before grinning after the aggressive move by Frazier.
Thirteen years later, Frazier is back in Champaign with Illinois, and his new boss, Brad Underwood, referenced the Gordon chest bump in his press conference a couple weeks ago to introduce Frazier.
Underwood needed to find a jolt after losing two assistant coaches and three of his top five scorers from the 2020-21 team.
So who better than Frazier, right?
“Hey, damn, the half court handshake with Eric Gordon, are you shittin’ me? I mean he blasted that dude,” Underwood said with a mischievous grin “You don’t think that didn’t fit with me? We’re rockin’ right there now.”
Gordon’s freshman year at IU was fully as advertised. The Indianapolis native averaged 20.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game and earned first team All-Big Ten honors. As a team Indiana started the season 24-4 and were ranked in the top 10 — before the wheels came off in connection with the Kelvin Sampson recruiting scandal and accusations of rampant drug abuse by other members of the team.
Everything about Gordon’s brief tenure with Indiana, from his commitment on through to the end of his freshman season, was high profile. But no moment stands out more than that night in Champaign.
Gordon finished with 19 points but he was clearly effected by the scene. Illinois’ defense, led by Frazier, contributed to Gordon making just 3 of 13 shots and just one first half point. But Gordon got the last laugh with a banked in 3-pointer with 23 seconds left in regulation that forced overtime, and IU eventually won the game 83-79 in double overtime.
It came as no surprise that Gordon entered the NBA draft after his freshmen season at IU. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard was taken seventh overall by the Los Angeles Clippers and he has gone on to play 13 NBA seasons and he has amassed over $100 million in career earnings.
Frazier gave up a brief overseas professional career to join his former Illinois coach Weber at Kansas State. He stayed there for seven years before going to Virginia Tech for the last two seasons.
He’s not the guy you grew to hate during that moment in 2008. Frazier is now in his mid-30s, and an aspiring head coach with a family.
But he still has the same fire burning that thrust him into Gordon 13 years ago, and Frazier hopes to ignite the Illini once again.
“I’m going to go hard, I’m going to compete, these guys are going to feel that energy, that edge, that toughness and it’s a requirement to play the game that way and I hope these guys feed off that and take on that personality,” Frazier said at his introductory press conference.
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