cover of book

Playgrounds to the Pros: Legends of Peoria Basketball
by Jeff Karzen
University of Illinois Press, 2023
Paper: 978-0-252-08693-9 | eISBN: 978-0-252-05389-4
Library of Congress Classification GV884.A1
Dewey Decimal Classification 796.3230922

Howard Nathan. A. J. Guyton. Sergio McClain. Marcus Griffin. Frank Williams. Shaun Livingston. This dazzling constellation of talent helped make Peoria a prep basketball hotbed from the 1980s to the 2000s. Jeff Karzen takes readers inside the lives of the players, coaches, and others who defined an era that produced six state titles and four Illinois Mr. Basketball winners.

Drawing on dozens of in-depth interviews, Karzen tells the stories behind the on-court triumphs while providing a panorama of the entire Peoria scene--the rivalries and relationships, the families and friendships, the hopes and hard work. Karzen also follows the players into their Division 1 and NBA careers and pays special attention to the pipeline that, by connecting Peoria to Champaign-Urbana, powered one of the most successful periods in Fighting Illini basketball history.

Intense and intimate, Playgrounds to the Pros chronicles a basketball golden age in America’s quintessential blue collar town.

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