Big Ten

Illini reportedly pursuing transfers from Louisiana Tech, Virginia Tech

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Illini reportedly pursuing transfers from Louisiana Tech, Virginia Tech

Illinois is reportedly in pursuit of a pair of transfers.

The Illini are reportedly one of seven teams in the running for Merrill Holden, a Chicago native who spent the past two seasons at Louisiana Tech, according to a report from ESPN's Jeff Goodman.

Holden, a 6-foot-8 forward, spent one season at a community college before spending the past two years at Louisiana Tech. He made 16 starts last season as a junior, averaging 7.8 points and 4.9 rebounds in 22.4 minutes a game.

Holden missed the first 10 games of the season but averaged 10.7 points a game during a 13-game stretch from mid-January through the end of February, posting his lone double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds in a win over North Texas.

Additionally, Jalen Hudson, who spent the past two seasons with the Hokies before being granted his release about a week ago, has been contacted by the Illini and 11 other teams according to another report from Goodman.

Hudson, a 5-foot-6 guard, averaged 7.9 points and two rebounds a game in 19.6 minutes a game last season. His 3-point shooting improved dramatically from his freshman season to his sophomore season, growing from 28.3 percent to 35.6 percent. But his overall shooting numbers took a big hit, dropping from 47.9 percent as a freshman to 39.5 percent as a sophomore.

Hudson had a few huge scoring performances last season, putting up 23 points in a win over North Carolina State, scoring 27 points in a loss to Louisville and dropping a season-high 28 points in a win over Princeton in the NIT.

Illinois is facing plenty of roster uncertainty heading into next season. The team is waiting to see if Mike Thorne Jr. will earn a medical redshirt, and Leron Black, Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate are all facing legal situations and remain indefinitely suspended.

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.