Big Ten

Malcolm Hill announces he will return to Illini for senior season

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USA Today Sports Images

Malcolm Hill announces he will return to Illini for senior season

Illinois is facing a lot of uncertainty at the moment, but its best player will be back in orange and blue next season.

Malcolm Hill announced Friday in an Instagram post that he will return to Champaign for his senior season rather than test the NBA Draft process.

"I have had a great experience here at the University of Illinois. I will be returning for my senior season," Hill wrote. "I want to come back, get my degree, continue to develop my game and have an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament. We have unfinished business. I owe it to this wonderful community, my teammates and our great fan base. Thank you for the support and love for me and our program."

Hill has opted to not take advantage of new rules that allow underclassmen to test the NBA Draft process. New rules allow players to declare for the draft without hiring an agent, go through workouts with NBA teams and attend the NBA Draft Combine before making a final decision by May 25, all the while keeping their NCAA eligiblity intact should they choose to return to college. Hill is skipping out on that process and will just return to school.

For what it's worth, Hill is ranked as the No. 22 college junior by DraftExpress.com and is not ranked among the site's top-100 prospects for this year's draft.

But Hill's official return is terrific news for the Illini. Hill was the team's best player this past season, averaging 18.1 points per game (third in the Big Ten), 6.6 rebounds per game (ninth in the Big Ten), 3.3 assists per game (13th in the Big Ten) and 1.2 steals per game (12th in the Big Ten) in 35.1 minutes per game (fifth in the Big Ten).

It's finally a bit of good news for John Groce's team this offseason, as the program has been dealing with nothing but uncertainty since the end of the season in last month's Big Ten Tournament.

While the team awaits a decision on whether Mike Thorne Jr. will receive a medical redshirt, it has three players dealing with legal issues on serious charges in Leron Black, Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate.

As Hill mentioned in his post, he has yet to play in the NCAA tournament. Groce's teams have missed the Big Dance in each of the past three seasons, and that lack of on-court success coupled with the off-the-court issues have Groce's future somewhat in doubt. Though athletics director Josh Whitman has repeatedly said he remains committed to Groce as Illinois' head basketball coach.

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.