Big Ten

Northwestern announces three-man 2016 signing class


Northwestern announces three-man 2016 signing class

The 2015-16 season hasn't even started yet, but Chris Collins already has the next wave of Northwestern recruits all signed up.

The Cats announced their three-man recruiting class for next season on Wednesday, officially welcoming Barret Benson, Rapolas Ivanauskas and Isiah Brown to the program.

With two four-star prospects in Ivanauskas and Benson, Northwestern's recruiting class was ranked No. 34 in the country by Rivals.

Collins is already thinking about the impact they'll make after the current crop of seniors leaves after this season.

“I’m really excited about the three additions to our program,” Collins said. “With losing Alex Olah and Joey van Zegeren after this season, the addition of size with Barret and Rapolas are going to be huge building blocks for the future of our front line. They’re both local products who bring everything we value in our program and have the chance to be outstanding players.

“Bringing a scoring guard like Isiah into the fold is going to be big as we lose a big piece in Tre Demps. All three of them will have great opportunities to step in and have key roles right away.”

[MORE BIG TEN: Northwestern's Vic Law out for season, slated for shoulder surgery]

Ivanauskas is the highest-ranked of the trio, ranked as the No. 89 player in the country by Rivals, which deemed him a four-star recruit. A native of Barrington, he's attending a boarding school in New Hampshire before coming to Evanston next season. The 6-foot-9 big man also had Big Ten offers from Iowa and Purdue.

“Rapolas is a 6-foot-9 high-energy, versatile guy who can play a number of positions. He’s a great cutter and slasher. He has been a great scorer during his career and is an incredibly hard worker," Collins said. "He is someone whom we have seen improve tremendously over the last few years. That’s exciting as we look to project what he’ll become once he gets into our program and develops on all levels.”

Benson is ranked as the country's No. 109 recruit by Rivals. Currently playing at Hinsdale South, the 6-foot-9 big man has a four-star rating and picked the Cats over Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue.

“Barret is an emerging post prospect. He’s a true low-post center with great size and power. He’ll fill a big need for us coming into next year," Collins said. "The thing that has impressed me the most about Barret is how far he has come in the last three years. He’s a guy who every time you see him, he has gotten better. Those are the guys who excite our coaching staff because you know he’s going to be a hard worker. With his size, frame and skill level, I think he’ll have a great career here.”

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Northwestern gear right here]

Brown is a 6-foot-3 point guard from the state of Washington, a three-star recruit per Rivals.

“Isiah has a great pedigree. He is a first-team all-state player in the state of Washington. He has been a great scorer in high school," Collins said. "I think his ability to make plays and put the ball in the basket is going to really compliment our guard corps. I expect him to be able to come in and contend for big minutes as a freshman.”

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.

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.