Will Robinson - Doug Collins Statue
The statue replicates the historic photo showcasing the two Redbird basketball legends, where Coach Robinson is on one knee leaning on a basketball and Collins is posed alongside his mentor. The work of art, which was sculpted by Lou Cella, a 1985 alumnus of Illinois State, was created at the Rotblatt-Amrany Fine Art Studio in Highwood, Ill. .
The plans of the statue were announced following the death of Robinson, who was named ISU's head men's basketball coach Feb. 27, 1970, at the age of 58, and as a result, became the first black head basketball coach in NCAA Division I history. He was hired by former ISU Director of Athletics Milt Weisbecker as Illinois State was making the move from the College Division to Division I in NCAA status. Robinson passed away April 28, 2008, at the age of 96.
Engraved on the granite base of the statue is the following:
WILL ROBINSON BECAME THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN NCAA DIVISION I MEN'S BASKETBALL COACH ON FEBRUARY 27, 1970, WHEN HE WAS HIRED BY THEN-ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS DR. MILT WEISBECKER. ROBINSON HAILED FROM STEUBENVILLE, OHIO, AND WAS A LEGENDARY INNER CITY BASKETBALL COACH IN DETROIT. HE COACHED THE REDBIRDS FOR FIVE SEASONS, WITH EACH ONE RESULTING IN A WINNING RECORD. ROBINSON RECORDED A 71-58 MARK AT ILLINOIS STATE, BEFORE JOINING THE DETROIT PISTONS IN THEIR FRONT OFFICE.
ROBINSON'S MOST-HERALDED PLAYER AT ILLINOIS STATE WAS DOUG COLLINS, A PRODUCT OF BENTON, ILLINOIS. IN HIS THREE-YEAR VARSITY CAREER, COLLINS AVERAGED 29.1 POINTS PER GAME AND TOTALED 2,240 CAREER POINTS, WHILE BEING NAMED BOTH AN ALL-AMERICAN AND AN ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN FOLLOWING EACH SEASON HE PLAYED. HE WAS THE FIRST OVERALL SELECTION IN THE 1973 NBA DRAFT BY THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS, REPRESENTED THE UNITED STATES AT THE 1972 MUNICH OLYMPICS AND IS A MEMBER OF THE ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA HALL OF FAME.
DONATED BY THE DON FRANKE FAMILY
Statue Unveiling Video