Big Ten

Caris LeVert to return to Michigan for senior season


Caris LeVert to return to Michigan for senior season

Michigan lost its best player for the majority of conference play last season due to injury. The Wolverines won't lose him this offseason to the NBA Draft.

The program announced Tuesday morning that Caris LeVert will return to Ann Arbor for his senior season.

"Over the past few months, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my future," LeVert said in the announcement. "My family and I, along with the coaching staff, gathered as much information as possible. After considering my options, I am excited to announce I will return for my senior year. Coming back allows me to keep working towards my Michigan degree and take the next steps in my development as a player, teammate and a leader of our program. Michigan is a very special place, and the college experience only comes once. The future is bright, and I am blessed to be part of it."

[MORE BIG TEN: Illini bolster frontcourt with Charlotte transfer Mike Thorne Jr.]

LeVert was projected by many to be a first-round pick if he declared for this summer's draft. Though his stock was certainly impacted by the broken foot that knocked him out of the Wolverines' final 14 games of a disappointing campaign that saw Michigan miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010.

Despite playing in just 18 games, LeVert still had the highest marks on the team in points per game (14.9), rebounds per game (4.9) and steals per game (1.8) and the second-best numbers in assists per game (3.7) and 3-point percentage (40.5 percent). LeVert was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team and was expected to be among the best players in the country.

His foot injury in a Jan. 17 win over Northwestern derailed his season, as well as Michigan's. The Wolverines lost point guard Derrick Walton Jr. soon after and couldn't win ballgames without their two best players.

[MORE BIG TEN: Huskers' Terran Petteway to declare for NBA Draft]

The benefit of LeVert and Walton's absences, though, was playing time for some of the team's younger, less-experienced players such as Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who are now ready for bigger roles next season. With LeVert, Walton and Spike Albrecht back from injury — plus John Beilein returning every one of his players from this past season's roster except Max Bielfeldt — Michigan could be among the more dangerous teams in the Big Ten next season.

And LeVert gets another opportunity to lead a contender on a big stage at full health, potentially doing wonders for his draft stock in the process.

"We love coaching Caris and are excited he has decided to come back for his final season," Beilein said in Tuesday's announcement. "His injury last season was unfortunate, but he never wavered in his commitment as a leader, a student or with his rehabilitation. Caris is a special person both on and off the court, and we are proud of what he has accomplished. The best is yet to come for a young man like Caris LeVert."

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.