Redbirds Highlights

General Information

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Missouri Valley (1981-present)
Past Conferences: Independent
City: Normal, Ill.
Arena: Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena
NCAA Tournaments: 6 (1983, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1997, 1998)


National Championships: None
Conference Tournament Titles: 4 (1983, 1990, 1997, 1998)
Conference Regular Season Titles: 6 (1984, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2017)

Team History

The Illinois State Redbirds are a Division I program located in Normal, Ill. Illinois State is a long-time member of the Missouri Valley Conference and is coached by Ryan Pedon. Illinois State has the dubious distinction of having the longest NCAA Tournament drought in the MVC. The Redbirds last appeared in the tournament in 1998; they have made it just three times since 1990.

Pedon -a former assistant at Illinois, Butler, and Ohio State, and other schools- was hired before the 2022-23 season to reinvigorate the program. He replaced Dan Muller, who posted a 167-50 record over 10 seasons but never took the team beyond the second round of the National Invitational Tournament.

The Redbirds made the NIT’s second round in 2015 before losing to Old Dominion, and, two years later, lost at the same point to UCF. Both games were decided by a single point. In fact, in only three of their 14 NIT appearances have the Redbirds advanced to the quarterfinals (1977, 1987, 1996.)

Illinois State hasn’t had much success in the NCAA Tournament either. In both 1984 and 1985, the Redbirds reached the second round under Bob Donewald, as did the 1998 squad with Kevin Stallings. But that’s it. The two coaches before Pedon — Tim Jankovich and Muller — combined to make the NIT six times and the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) once, but they never did qualify for the Big Dance.

The Redbirds’ most recent conference regular-season title was in 2017. Prior to that, they hadn’t won since 1998, the second of back-to-back championships. They also won in 1984, 1992 and 1993. They also accomplished the feat eight times at the Division II level, between 1930 and 1943.

Also of note: In 1970, the school made Will Robinson the first Black head coach in Division I basketball. His best player at the time was Doug Collins, a consensus All-American who went on to become the first player taken in the 1973 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Collins made four All-Star teams over his eight-year career. After retirement, Collins turned to coaching, and had stints with four different franchises, including the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls from 1986-89. Illinois State’s court is named after Collins, and his number has been retired by the school.

All-Time Records

  • Points Scored

    • Billy Lewis: 1,962
    • Ron Jones: 1,839
    • Osiris Eldrige: 1,838
  • Rebounds

    • Ron deVries: 1,033
    • Jackie Carmichael: 942
    • Billy Lewis: 869
  • Assists

    • Jamar Smiley: 740
    • Ron Jones: 597
    • Derrick Mayes: 506


Latest NCAAB News

Back to top button

Bet like a PRO!

Subscribe now and get Weekly Expert Free Picks