Big Ten

Hawkeyes' Peter Jok latest to test NBA Draft waters

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Hawkeyes' Peter Jok latest to test NBA Draft waters

New NBA rules have allowed a flood of players to test their chances in the draft without giving up eligibility, and many are taking advantage of them.

The latest is Iowa's Peter Jok, the school announcing Thursday that the junior will enter his name into the NBA Draft without hiring an agent, which leaves him the option of returning to the Hawkeyes next season.

“I would like to take advantage of the opportunity that is now presented to underclassmen in going through the process of obtaining input from NBA personnel so that I can make an informed decision about my future," Jok said in the announcement. "For me, this whole process is for experience to see how it all works and then return to work on my game.

“It’s comforting having the support of coach (Fran) McCaffery and staff. Coach will continue to be a valuable resource for me during this process. If it’s not the right time for me to make the move to the NBA, I’m excited about returning and leading our team next season.”

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As explained earlier this week, when Purdue freshman Caleb Swanigan announced the same decision, the new rules allow student-athletes who haven't exhausted their NCAA eligibility to enter their name into the NBA Draft, attend workouts with NBA teams and participate in the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, should they be invited. And as long as they haven't hired an agent, they have until May 25, about a month before draft day, to make their final decision whether to embark on a pro career or return to college. The new rules make a lot of sense, as they allow players to receive as much information as possible about which would be the best course of action for their future.

Jok showed terrific ability as a scorer and a shooter this season, averaging 16.1 points per game and shooting 40.2 percent from 3-point range. He ranked eighth in the Big Ten in scoring and eighth with 80 made 3s.

Jok was the only non-senior in the starting lineup for the Hawkeyes this season, meaning if he does ultimately choose to head to the NBA, McCaffery will have to replace his entire starting five heading into next season.

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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USA TODAY

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.