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.”

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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.”

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.