Big Ten

Peter Jok returning to Hawkeyes for senior season


Peter Jok returning to Hawkeyes for senior season

Iowa will return one starter from last year's team.

With four of the five players in the Hawkeyes' starting lineup already graduated, the only mystery was Peter Jok, a senior to be who decided to test the NBA Draft process. But he let it be known Friday that he will return to Iowa City for his senior season.

The new rules allowing underclassmen to declare for the draft without hiring an agent and work out with NBA teams appears to be quite beneficial, allowing those players to gather far more information about their pro prospects than before. Jok took advantage and decided to return to school with his eligibility intact.

"The entire experience has been beneficial to Peter in assessing where he stands heading into his final college season," head basketball coach Fran McCaffery said in the announcement. "He has learned a great deal in regard to this process, and his experience will prove valuable a year from now. We are excited that Peter will be a part of our team in the coming season, and we anticipate his senior leadership playing a key role for us."

"I’m excited to be returning for my senior season and leading our team," Jok said in the announcement. "This has been an invaluable learning experience for my career, and I appreciate all the support I have received from coach McCaffery and the entire staff."

Jok was one of the top 10 scorers in the Big Ten last season, averaging 16.1 points per game for a Hawkeyes team that for a while at least was one of the best in the conference. Iowa was blown out of the NCAA tournament by eventual national champion Villanova in the second round.

But the sour finish didn't dampen Jok's stellar season. In 27.7 minutes a game, he more than doubled his scoring average from his sophomore season. He also dramatically improved as a shooter, shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from 3-point range, one of the top 3-point shooters in the league. He also ranked among the league leaders in steals.

Both media and coaches named Jok a member of the All-Big Ten Second Team.

While Jok's return is huge for the Hawkeyes, they still will be pretty much starting over when it comes to building a reliable lineup. Jarrod Uthoff, Adam Woobury, Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons are the four departed starters, and the Iowa reserve unit didn't see much in the way of playing time last season. Nicholas Baer stood out as a freshman, but other than that, inexperience reigns. The Iowa roster right now only has eight names on it, though the Hawkeyes will welcome in a five-man recruiting class headlined by four-star forward Tyler Cook.

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.