Big Ten

Illini sophomore Leron Black arrested after allegedly pulling knife


Illini sophomore Leron Black arrested after allegedly pulling knife

In a season of nothing but bad news for Illinois basketball, more bad news has arrived.

Leron Black, a sophomore big man who's spent nearly the entire season out of action with a knee injury, was arrested Thursday for aggravated assault, allegedly pulling a knife on a club bouncer, according to the Champaign News-Gazette.

Head basketball coach John Groce announced an indefinite suspension for Black on Friday morning.

From the News Gazette's Mary Schenk:

(University of Illinois Police Lt. Tom) Geis said the security guard told police that Black and others were inside the club and that security was trying to remove people when “Black became very belligerent and hostile toward the security guard,” Geis said.

“(Black) yelled ‘I don’t have a strap but I’m not afraid to cut somebody,’” Geis said. “Then the security guard said he pulled the knife, opened it and put it within one to two inches of his nose.”

According to the News-Gazette, Black is scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon and will be charged with aggravated assault, a Class 4 felony.

Black has appeared in just seven games this season, hampered by the after effects of preseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Along with Mike Thorne Jr. and Tracy Abrams, Black is one of three projected Illini starters who have missed the majority if not the entirety of the season.

This is the second arrest of an Illinois player since the end of last season. Darius Paul, who returned to the Illini via transfer after he suspended for the entire 2014-15 season because of a different arrest, was arrested and charged with vandalism, public intoxication and resisting arrest in France during the team's summer European trip. When the Illini returned to the United States, Groce dismissed Paul from the program.

It's unsure what fate awaits Black regarding his status with the team. Black was a solid contributor as a freshman a season ago, starting 10 games and averaging five points and 4.3 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game over 33 games.

This is just the latest in a nightmarish two seasons for Groce and the Illinois basketball program, which has dealt with an onslaught of injuries to key players, missed out on top-flight recruits and dealt with multiple off-the-court issues. Combined with the play on the court, wins haven't been in ample supply, and this season looks to be the third straight without an NCAA tournament appearance.

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.