Big Ten

Kipper Nichols officially joins Illini basketball team

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Kipper Nichols officially joins Illini basketball team

While he won't be eligible to play for another year, Kipper Nichols has joined the Illini.

A Class of 2015 recruit, Nichols picked Tulane but stayed just a short while and was released from his scholarship, choosing to play at Illinois earlier this year. Nichols arrived in Champaign on Monday and has practiced the past couple days with the Illini.

“Boy, are we glad to have him now and have our entire team," head coach John Groce said Tuesday. "He’s really a great student, a great person and offers just a lot of versatility as a player with his size, his strength, his body. He’s got a man’s body at 18, 19 years old. He’s very versatile, versatile both offensively and defensively. He can guard multiple positions defensively, he can play multiple positions offensively. Guys like that, they always offer a tremendous value to their team. But the thing that’s impressed me the last two days is just how well he’s fit in. Knew he was a great kid, but I think he fits right in line with the character we have in our locker room and with our team this year. I know he’s awful excited to be here, so we’re awful glad to welcome him.”

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Nichols is a 6-foot-6 small forward and was a three-star prospect out of Lakewood, Ohio. Per NCAA rules, he will sit out the next two semesters following his departure from Tulane and will be eligible around this time next year. He will then three and a half years of eligibility remaining.

“He’s versatile at both ends of the floor, for sure. He’s a guy that can score, pass, dribble, defend, has good hands, he can think," Groce said. "He comes from a winning program, played for great high school and AAU programs. ... Won a state championship, he knows what winning looks like. Just has really good feel for the game, can really think the game.”

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.