Big Ten

Illini announce transfer of Simeon alum D.J. Williams as offseason roster evolution continues

Illini announce transfer of Simeon alum D.J. Williams as offseason roster evolution continues

The evolution of Illinois' roster ahead of Brad Underwood's first season in Champaign continued Monday.

The team announced junior-to-be D.J. Williams will be transferring away from the program.

"After meeting with D.J., we came to the decision that a fresh start is in his best interest," Underwood said in the announcement.

Williams, a Chicago native and Simeon High School product, was ranked by Rivals as a three-star recruit in the Class of 2015. But he didn't log many minutes in his first two collegiate seasons under John Groce, averaging 11 minutes a game as a freshman and an even lower 8.8 minutes a game this past season as a sophomore.

Williams only appeared in five of the Fighting Illini's 19 games against Big Ten opponents this past season.

By the time all is said and done — and with four open scholarships, you'd have to figure there are more additions coming — the Illinois roster will look much different when the team plays for the first time under Underwood than it did when Groce was fired after the Illini's exit from the Big Ten Tournament in early March.

Jaylon Tate, Tracy Abrams, Malcolm Hill, Maverick Morgan and Mike Thorne Jr. all wrapped up their collegiate careers this past season. And the once-ballyhooed recruiting class Groce put together was halved when Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett asked out of their National Letters of Intent following the coaching change. Plus, high-profile transfers Charlie Moore and Carlton Bragg Jr. opted to play elsewhere after reportedly considering the Illini.

Underwood, though, was able to sign Illinois' Mr. Basketball, Mark Smith, once more boosting an incoming class that also features four-star guards Trent Frazier and Da'Monte Williams.

He'll add those incoming freshmen to a returning core of Kipper Nichols, Te'Jon Lucas, Jalen Coleman-Lands, Leron Black, Aaron Jordan and Michael Finke.

Plus there's likely more to come.

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.