Big Ten

Wagner, Wilson make NBA Draft decisions: One Michigan forward returning to Ann Arbor, another turning pro


Wagner, Wilson make NBA Draft decisions: One Michigan forward returning to Ann Arbor, another turning pro

Michigan will get one of its star forwards back for next season, while another is turning pro.

Moe Wagner and D.J. Wilson announced their decisions Wednesday: Wagner will return to Ann Arbor for his junior season, while Wilson will keep his name in the NBA Draft.

Both players took advantage of rules allowing underclassmen to test out the NBA Draft process, receive feedback and then decide whether to return to school with their NCAA eligibility intact.

While both are seen as future pros, Wilson has received a lot more NBA hype and is being forecasted as a potential first-round pick in next month's draft. Draft Express' latest mock draft has Wilson going late in the first round.

Wagner and Wilson both factored big in Michigan's exciting late-season run that included a Big Ten Tournament championship and a spot in the NCAA tournament's Sweet Sixteen. The Wolverines won 12 of their final 15 games including six straight after a harrowing experience on the team plane that included an aborted takeoff and a skid off the runway en route to the Big Ten Tournament in Washington, D.C.

Wagner scored 17 points in a win over Minnesota in the semifinal round of the conference tournament and dropped a whopping 26 points in a win over Louisville in the NCAA tournament's Round of 32. Wilson was sensational in the Big Ten Tournament, averaging better than 15 points in those four wins, including a 26-point effort in the overtime win over Purdue. He averaged 16 points a game in the team's three NCAA tournament contests, scoring 19 against Oklahoma State and 17 against Louisville.

On the 2016-17 season, Wagner averaged 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds a game, while Wilson averaged 11 points and 5.3 rebounds a game.

"This was not an easy decision," Wilson said in his Wednesday announcement, "however, I have thought long about the next step in my career over the last few months. After many prayers and discussions with my mom, coach (John) Beilein and the staff, it is the right time for me to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA.

"I am confident I have the drive, work ethic and maturity for this next step. It's never going to be easy, but if I have learned anything at Michigan, perseverance pays off. It has truly been a blessing to have had the opportunity to attend Michigan, and I will forever be grateful to coach Beilein and his staff for taking the chance on me. There are so many memories over the past three years that I will always cherish. I will be a Wolverine at heart forever."

"The mission is to lead this team and to win," Wagner told the Michigan athletics website. "I want to win the Big Ten again. Winning the Big Ten Tournament whetted my appetite. I wanted more. It's a little early to talk about a national championship, but we go into every game with the mentality of being able to win it. We have so many players who can step up this year, and I want to step up my game and be more consistent and lead by example the way Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin did for me.

"You've got to shoot for the moon if you want to be successful."

Wagner will return as a leader on this fall's Michigan team. Seniors Walton and Irvin departed after exhausting their NCAA eligibility, and Wilson is leaving, as well.

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.