Big Ten

Malcolm Hill announces he will return to Illini for senior season

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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.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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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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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.