Big Ten

Badgers' Sam Dekker goes to Rockets with No. 18 pick in NBA Draft


Badgers' Sam Dekker goes to Rockets with No. 18 pick in NBA Draft

Fresh off a pair of Final Four appearances, Sam Dekker can officially add first-round NBA Draft pick to his resume.

The Houston Rockets used the No. 18 pick in the draft to make Dekker the second Wisconsin Badger drafted in the first round of Thursday's NBA Draft. Frank Kaminsky was selected earlier in the night with the No. 9 pick, making the two the first Badger teammates picked in the same draft since 1995 and the first two Wisconsin players ever selected in the first round of the same draft.

Dekker has been building NBA hype for a while now thanks to his physical attributes and on-court performance. He gained national attention last summer when he defended LeBron James at the NBA superstar's camp. This past season, Dekker was one of the Big Ten's best players, averaging 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, earning All-Big Ten Second Team honors.

Dekker was particularly impressive in the NCAA tournament, where he helped lead the Badgers to a second straight appearance in the Final Four. Dekker scored 20 points in a Round of 64 win over Coastal Carolina and followed that up with 17 points against Oregon. He was sensational in a Sweet Sixteen game against North Carolina, scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. No Dekker game was bigger, though, than Wisconsin's Elite Eight win over Arizona, where the junior scored 27 points, including 20 in the second half where he was perfect from the floor and made five 3-pointers.

[MORE BIG TEN: NCAA proposes allowing NBA Draft declarers to return to school]

He added 16 points in Wisconsin's Final Four win over Kentucky, including hitting the biggest shot of the night to put the Badgers in front of the then-undefeated Wildcats for good.

Dekker is the fifth Badger selected during the Bo Ryan Era at Wisconsin. He was preceded by Devin Harris in 2004, Alando Tucker in 2007, Jon Leuer in 2011 and Kaminsky.

Ryan made this statement after Kaminsky and Dekker were selected.

“This is a very proud moment for the University of Wisconsin basketball program to have two guys go in the first round. That is special,” Ryan said. “And who knows, we may have some other guys that maybe didn’t go in the first round but still might end up playing at the highest level. I wouldn’t be surprised. But I’m very proud of Frank and Sam, and I’m sure everyone else takes the same pride in their accomplishments and now they’ve been rewarded professionally.”

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately


Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal


Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.