This isn't an injury bug, it's an injury monster.
The Illini, plagued by injuries during the preseason and into the beginning of this season, are reportedly facing another crushing blow, as CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb reported Monday morning that big man Mike Thorne Jr. has a meniscus tear and will likely miss the remainder of the season.
CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein later reported that Thorne was set for surgery Monday and that it was still possible Thorne could return this season.
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The Illini were just starting to get back to what approximated full strength, with Kendrick Nunn returning a couple weeks earlier than expected from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb, Jalen Coleman-Lands playing after dealing with a stress fracture in his leg in the preseason, Leron Black back in action after tearing his meniscus in the preseason and Jaylon Tate returned after having surgery to repair a dislocated finger.
But this latest blow gives the Illini their second season-ending injury of the year, as Thorne would join point guard Tracy Abrams as out for the year. Abrams tore his Achilles tendon in the preseason.
Thorne was playing well after transferring in from Charlotte this offseason. He averaged 13.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in the team's first seven games, recording a pair of double-doubles in losses to North Florida and Chattanooga. He was on his way to another Saturday against Iowa State, scoring 10 points and grabbing seven rebounds in just 13 minutes, but he left after suffering an injury.
Thorne is Illinois' tallest player at 6-foot-11, and he was playing well as the team's starting center, starting in the front court alongside Black. If Thorne is done for the season — or any significant length of time — it will be up to forwards Maverick Morgan and Michael Finke to take over those minutes.
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.