Big Ten

Spartans' Branden Dawson drafted at No. 56 by Pelicans, traded to Clippers

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Spartans' Branden Dawson drafted at No. 56 by Pelicans, traded to Clippers

For the 16th time since Tom Izzo took the reins of the Michigan State basketball program, a Spartan heard his name called on NBA Draft night.

Branden Dawson was the No. 56 pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft, a second-round selection of the New Orleans Pelicans, but the Pelicans quickly traded Dawson to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Dawson earned tons of praise after leading the Big Ten in rebounding a season ago and landing on the All-Big Ten Second Team. He averaged 11.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

[MORE BIG TEN: Buckeyes' D'Angelo Russell goes to Lakers with No. 2 pick in NBA Draft]

Dawson was a big factor on Michigan State's run to yet another Final Four, scoring a combined 29 points in the Spartans' first two games of the NCAA tournament. He grabbed double-digit rebounds in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight wins before a 12-point scoring effort in the Final Four loss to Duke.

He routinely flashed strong defensive skills, such as stripping the ball in the post and blocking shots on the perimeter, and he did a solid job scoring inside. But there were plenty of questions about his future heading into the draft given his size (6-foot-7) and desire to switch positions from power forward to small forward, where his size would be more appropriate.

Dawson joins a lengthy list of Spartans picked in the draft. Most recently, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne were first-round selections a year ago. Prior to those two, Draymond Green was a second-round selection of the Golden State Warriors in 2012. Green and the Warriors are just a week removed from winning an NBA championship. Now Dawson will be a division rival with Green.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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USA TODAY

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

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USA TODAY

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.