Big Ten

Denzel Valentine is Big Ten Player of the Year, leads all-conference team

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Denzel Valentine is Big Ten Player of the Year, leads all-conference team

In some of the least surprising news of the college basketball season, Michigan State's Denzel Valentine was named the Big Ten Player of the Year on Monday night.

Valentine, one of the favorites for national player of the year honors, is the conference's leader in scoring and assists, averaging 19.6 points per game and 7.5 helpers per game. He also ranks seventh in the league in rebounding with 7.5 boards a game. Valentine can do it all, running the show for the second-ranked Spartans, who are believed by many to be capable of reaching the Final Four for the second straight season and the eighth time under head coach Tom Izzo.

The Big Ten handed out the rest of its postseason honors on Monday, too, with Indiana's Tom Crean winning Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, Wisconsin's Ethan Happ earning Freshman of the Year distinction and Purdue's A.J. Hammons being named the Defensive Player of the Year.

Crean led the Hoosiers to a regular-season Big Ten championship with a 15-3 conference record. It's the second regular-season league title for Crean's crew in the past four seasons.

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Valentine and Hammons were both members of the All-Big Ten First Team, joined by Indiana's Yogi Ferrell, Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes and Iowa's Jarrod Uthoff.

Second Team honors went to Illinois' Malcolm Hill, Iowa's Peter Jok, Maryland's Melo Trimble, Michigan State's Bryn Forbes, Nebraska's Shavon Shields and Michigan State's Matt Costello.

Happ, Costello and Shields, along with Indiana's Thomas Bryant and Troy Williams, Maryland's Diamond Stone, Michigan's Derrick Walton Jr., Penn State's Brandon Taylor amd Wisconsin's Bronson Koenig all earned some form of All-Big Ten Third Team honors.

Bryant, Stone, Happ, Minnesota's Jordan Murphy and Purdue's Caleb Swanigan were named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

Ferrell, Uthoff, Hammons, Happ and Purdue's Rapheal Davis were named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team.

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

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USA TODAY

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

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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.