Willis added to UIC Basketball Coaching Staff

The UIC men’s basketball program is proud to announce the addition of Tony Wills to the coaching staff, head coach Luke Yaklich announced. Wills joins the staff as an assistant coach, bringing a wealth of experience and a passion for developing young talent.

“I am very thankful for this opportunity that coach Yaklich has given me,” commented Wills. “This opportunity means a lot to me to come help build with coach Yak, who coached and developed me at Illinois State. I can’t wait to get to work with the staff and players. I am beyond excited to be a part of this program!”

“We are so excited about bringing Tony Wills into our men’s basketball family,” added Yaklich. “I have known Tony for the past 10 years. Tony had a great career at Illinois State where I had the opportunity to watch him grow and develop as a student-athlete. The passion and energy he competed with as a student-athlete matches his love for teaching the game and positively impacting young people. Tony’s work ethic and ability to connect with people is special.”

Wills, an Indianapolis native, is a Missouri Valley Conference alumnus. He made 71 career starts over four years at Illinois State, with UIC head coach Luke Yaklich on the coaching staff for all four seasons. His senior season in 2016-17, Wills started 32 games for a 28-7 Redbird squad that won a share of the MVC regular-season title with a 17-1 league record. Wills was named to the MVC’s All-Defensive team after the season. 

Starting his coaching career at SIU in 2022-23, Wills helped the Salukis outperform the preseason expectations of ESPN’s BPI, KenPom, Sagarin, Norlander, and Sports Illustrated. SIU returned only three players from the previous year’s team, but the team won 10 MVC games anyway, the most ever by a team that had been picked last in the league’s preseason poll. The Salukis ran off 10-straight home wins and seven-straight MVC wins during the season, both of which were the longest for the program since 2007. 

Wills, who was a standout defensive player at Illinois State, helped the Salukis rank in the top-15 nationally in scoring defense. The Salukis allowed just 62.2 points per game and led the MVC in scoring defense for the first time since 2007. 


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