Nigel Hayes is going to test the NBA Draft waters, but that doesn't mean his days at Wisconsin are done.
Like many others, Hayes will take advantage of new rules that allow underclassmen to declare for the NBA Draft without hiring an agent, allowing them to attend workouts with pro teams and the NBA Draft Combine, all the while keeping their NCAA eligibility intact should they choose to return to school by the May 25 deadline.
Hayes earned All-Big Ten First Team honors this past season, ranking 10th in the conference with a 15.7-point-per-game scoring average. He ranked 16th in the league in both rebounding and steals, averaging 5.8 boards and 1.1 swipes per game. Only Northwestern's Tre Demps averaged more minutes per game than Hayes, who played 36.2 minutes per game.
Hayes played a critical role on each of the last three Badgers teams, helping them to back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2014 and 2015 before leading a mostly inexperienced group to the Sweet Sixteen this past season. As he had to take a larger role following the departures of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, among others, his shooting numbers dropped significantly. After shooting 51 percent and 49.7 percent from the field as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, he shot just 36.8 percent as a junior this past season. And after hitting 39.6 percent of his 3-point attempts as a sophomore, he shot just 29.3 percent form behind the arc as a junior. But scoring, assists and steals were up significantly this past season for the Toledo native.
DraftExpress.com currently has Hayes ranked as its No. 49 overall prospect, however he is not included in the site's latest mock draft.
Should Hayes end up returning to Madison for his senior season, the Badgers would figure to be in pretty good shape for next season. Greg Gard did a phenomenal job in relief of Bo Ryan this past season, and his first full year at the helm would see him return almost every player on the roster, including a complete starting five of Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Ethan Happ, Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter plus a bevy of players who will be in their second years in the program.
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 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.