Illinois quarterback Aaron Bailey talks with WCIA 3's Bret Beherns about his decision to transfer, and he has a message for Illini fans.
RANTOUL, Ill. - A year after an injury ended his chances of making it to state as a freshman Demarius Smith-Terhune is once again in position to fulfill his dream of becoming one of the state's best wrestlers. "You really want to redeem yourself when something like that happens. It sucked," said Smith-Terhune. "I felt on fire last year. I felt like I could have gone somewhere, but this year I think I'm at a whole new level." Smith-Terhune suffered a concussion in the first match of regionals last season. Instead of dwelling on the past he's using it as motivation. The sophomore is 30-1 and the seventh-ranked wrestler in the state at 145 pounds.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois quarterback Aaron Bailey has been granted his release from the school and will look to transfer, he confirmed to WCIA 3. "I want to be happy. That's the bottom line," Bailey said. "I just want to play football, play quarterback, and just want to get that opportunity to play again like I did before in high school. It's a great thing. At first it seems like a bad thing, but it's a great thing because I get a second chance so to speak to display my talents." The Bolingbrook-native just finished his sophomore season at Illinois, struggling to find consistent playing time during each of his first two seasons in Champaign. Bailey was one of the top dual-threat quarterback recruits in the country in high school, but he never really seemed to fit into offensive coordinator Bill Cubit's system. Bailey, who was an all-state quarterback, was unwilling to consider switching positions. "Hearing coach Cubit talk, Aaron didn't fit his system," said Bailey's father O Carter. "He felt he would never get the chance to display what he has [at Illinois]."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois wide receivers coach Mike Bellamy has been suspended one game by the NCAA for providing extra benefits to a student-athlete. An Illinois spokesman says the incident stems from Bellamy personally arranging for a junior college athlete to take a placement exam - in lieu of credit hours - in order to finish his associates degree. The NCAA interpreted Bellamy's involvement as an "extra benefit." The university self-reported the violation, and Bellamy will miss next year's season opener against Kent State.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It turns out football might not be Cameron Watkins' best sport. Just a day after the three-star athlete signed to play football at Illinois, presumably as a defensive back, the university announced the Pearl-Cohn Magnet star will also compete for the school's track and field program. Watkins' specialty is the long jump. "Cam is a big-time athlete," said recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh on the university's website. "He's got all the tools - got the explosiveness, got the speed obviously and really a long DB which is when you're recruiting defensive backs you're looking at guys who have length and speed and he's got both of those." It appears those tools have served Watkins well. He has developed into one of the most well-rounded track athletes in the state of Tennessee. As a junior last season, he advanced to the state finals in four events. He won the long jump state title, finished third in the decathlon, sixth in the high jump and fifth in the 100 meter dash. Watkins' championship-winning long jump distance last season, 7.03m, is further than any Illinois athlete jumped last season, meaning he could immediately be Illinois' top long jumper the moment he steps on campus.
TUSCOLA, Ill. - Former Tuscola football coach Rick Reinhard was hired as the new head coach at Collinsville High School Wednesday night. He confirmed the news to WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten. Reinhart had resigned his position at Tuscola, and he says Collinsville then approached him about taking the Kahoks job. Reinhart won 61 games in seven seasons with the Warriors. He led them to three state championship games and one state title. Reinhart, a Tuscola graduate, lettered for the Illinois football team in 1973. He spent three decades coaching in Southern Illinois, mainly at Fairfield and Bethalto Civic Memorial, before coming back home in 2008. “Coach Reinhart’s leadership has allowed the Tuscola Warrior football program to continue to thrive over the last seven seasons," Tuscola superintendent Michael Smith said in a statement. "He is recognized as one of the most successful football coaches in the state of Illinois over the last several years. His greatest quality is his love and dedication to the Tuscola community, school district, and our students. We wish him nothing but the best in his new position. We understand and support his decision to return to the metro east area and be closer to family.” Smith says the open position will be posted through the end of February, and they hope to have a replacement named in March. WCIA 3 reached out to Tuscola athletic director Ryan Hornaday, but he declined any further comment.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois is playing itself back into the NCAA Tournament discussion. They've done it by winning five of their last eight Big Ten games - all without their best player Rayvonte Rice. "I think we're getting into a rhythm," said sophomore Kendrick Nunn, who scored a game-high 21 points in Illinois' win over Rutgers Tuesday night. "It's February, and it's time to start to minimize our mistakes and play our best basketball." "We've just kind of taken it one day at a time," said head coach John Groce. "I appreciate the fact that they let us coach them and that they're willing to adapt and adjust maybe from some of our original schemes to try to make us as competitive as we can considering some of the roster change."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tim Beckman had a pretty solid recruiting class lined up ahead of National Signing Day, but as the decisions were made and the letters kept coming in Wednesday morning, the class kept getting better. It was a class ranked as low as tenth in the Big Ten on Tuesday, but by Wednesday afternoon it had risen all the way up to No. 6 in the Big Ten and top 50 in the country according to a number of scouting services. "Our coaching staff took the exact same frame of mind when we hit this last month knowing we had some important positions to fill, and that's exactly what they did," Beckman said. "They got after it as if it was the football season, and they did exactly what they did to finish off a pretty good class."
Illinois head coach Tim Beckman addresses the media on National Signing Day
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois sophomore Kendrick Nunn scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Illini past Rutgers 66-54. John Groce's team finished the first half on a 16-4 run, opening up a lead as large as 17 points early in the second half. In addition to Nunn three other Illini scored in double figures: Malcolm Hill (15), Ahmad Starks (13) and Leron Black (12). Illinois improves to 15-8 overall and 5-5 in the Big Ten.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Even with two national titles to his name Jesse Delgado doesn't have to look for motivation. "It's not too hard to be motivated to win a national title," Delgado said. "It's something special, and every year only one person per weight gets to do that so I don't think it's much more than that." Delgado became the first Illinois wrestler in 56 years to win back-to-back NCAA titles. Now he is trying to become the first in school history to make it three in a row. He knows it won't be easy though. "I think you always have to get better, evolve a little bit or people are going to catch up to you," he said. "That's for anybody, not just me. I don't think I have to change more than I changed last year or the year before that or the year before that."
Girls, boys basketball
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It appears Illinois will still be without Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby for Tuesday's game against Rutgers. Head coach John Groce would not get into any details at a news conference Monday, but he did say the two are still under an indefinite suspension for violating team rules. Groce originally announced the suspensions for Rice and Cosby about an hour before Saturday's game against Penn State. He didn't what rules they broke - only that they would be out indefinitely. Groce reiterated that Monday, saying the two have been practicing with the team, but they will continue to be held out of game action. "They're indefinitely suspended, and that's where it's at," Groce said. "That's between me and them."
The 2009 Natioal Champion Parkland baseball team was inducted into the Cobra hall of fame. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten talked with former Cobra Kevin Kiermaier who currently plays for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Parkland women's basketball team beat Lincoln 98-39 (21st win in a row) while the Parkland men beat Lincoln 58-57.
Malcolm Hill made a lay up with under five seconds left to lead Illinois to a 60-58 win over Penn State Saturday. Hill scored a game-high 27 points. Illinois announced before the game Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby have been indefinitely suspended after violating team rules.
Highlights and scores from Full Court Friday on 1/30
LINCOLN, Neb. - Chatrice White tied a career-high with 23 points on a career-best four 3-PT, but it came in a losing effort as Illinois fell to No. 15 Nebraska 59-57.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Champaign Swarm suffered their first loss of the year 102-81 to the Bloomington Flex Thursday night. The Swarm fall to 3-1 on the season.
URBANA, Ill. - Brandon Ngai was the type of guy Illinois men's gymnastics coach Justin Spring was hoping to find while recruiting. "We needed a [pommel] horse guy," Spring said. "He says he's into aerospace engineering. I came in as an aerospace engineer, and my dad was an astronaut. There was an immediate connection with this kid. We started talking on the phone, a really good conversation." Everything was good until Ngai told Spring he was only 15 years old.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois head coach John Groce says it is possible both Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby could return to the lineup for Saturday's game against Penn State. Groce made the comments at a news conference Thursday. He would not guarantee they would be back, but he did say it is a possibility the two could be back on the court this weekend against the Nittany Lions.
MEN'S BASKETBALL ICC 66 Parkland 70 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL Lewis & Clark 36 Parkland 67
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois ace Kevin Duchene says he is 100% healthy, and he is showing no ill-effects after he was sidelined for six weeks last season with tightness in his forearm. Duchene pitched well when he came back from that injury at the end of last season; in fact he won the Big Ten ERA title. He also pitched a full, healthy summer in the Cape Cod League. The former freshman All-American is 13-2 in his Illinois career with an ERA of 2.39, and he is looking forward to a big junior season. "Getting hurt last year was kind of an eye-opener," he said. "You never know when those things are gonna come, so I just tried to get my body in peak physical form to try to avoid anything like that again. I would say that I tried to refine my change-up a little bit to both sides of the plate, try and open up the inside part of the dish a little bit more for my fastball."
ARCOLA, Ill. - It would be easy to let her 700 wins define Nancy Stiff's career, but that's not how the longtime Arcola coach wants it. "This number is all about the kids," she said. Last week Stiff became just the fourth girls coach in Illinois history to win 700 games. She has spent her entire 42-year career at Arcola. The Purple Riders' gym is even named after the hall of fame coach, but none of that matters to Stiff. She wants to be known as a coach who cares more about her players than wins and losses.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Oakwood grad Casey Fletcher is ready for his last season with the Illinois baseball team. The senior, and son of former Major Leaguer Darrin Fletcher, made a huge impact in his first season in orange and blue last year. Fletcher hit .308 with six home runs and 27 RBI as a junior. Now he is looking for even more success this year, both individually and as a team. "It all started with the offseason," Fletcher said. "I knew I had to come in here and get bigger, faster, and stronger. I did some good things last year, but I think I need to come out and have a big year this year. We have a lot of upperclassmen, a lot of senior leaders, so we'll be able to get the job done this year. I'm feeling pretty confident about this team." Fletcher leads an Illini offense that returns five players who hit .295 or better last year.
Boys basketball, wrestling, swimming
URBANA, Ill. - The Hiltzik brothers have each been playing tennis since about age two. Even though they're two grades a part it makes for plenty of good stories. "We once played each other in a local tennis tournament, and my mom told him to tank the second set so I would win," said Aron, a freshman at Illinois. H"e beat me 7-6 in the third set so it was pretty funny." "I won the first set, and my mom told me to lose the second set," older brother Jared recalls. "I started crying and everything because I didn't want to do that because I was very competitive at that young of an age."
St. Thomas More beats Maroa-Forsyth 51-28 to improve to 6-0 in Okaw Valley Conference
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The season opener is less than three weeks away for the Illinois baseball team. The orange and blue are as confident as they have been in quite some time. They return basically their entire starting lineup and starting rotation. If the first day of practice is any indication, they're already ahead of the game. "Usually your first day back at things there's a number of errors, things you have to clean up," said head coach Dan Hartleb. "We were sharp. Again it's just a good group of guys that have done a very good job in the offseason. They believe that we have an opportunity to win at a high level, and now we just have to put in the work and get our jobs done." Illinois starts the season on the road February 13th. Their home opener is March 10th.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It was a game worth a hug from his future coach. Jalen Coleman-Lands scored 17 points in a win Saturday night at Parkland college. He got a little taste of Champaign, playing in front of dozens of Illinois fans. Illinois head coach John Groce was there too for support. He hustled back from the team's loss at Minnesota to catch the second half. "It was jaw-dropping when I saw him," Coleman-Lands said. "When I glanced over during the game, I saw him smile back. And it's definitely a memory I'm going to cherish for the rest of my life."
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Tim Beckman thought he had his new co-defensive coordinator, but Missouri defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski announced Monday afternoon he is staying with the Tigers. Illinois reportedly offered Kuligowski the job of co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. He is one of the most well-respected defensive coaches in the country after spending more than a decade on the Missouri staff. Kuligowski released a statement Monday saying he considered the opportunity before ultimately deciding it was best to stay put. Illinois is still searching for a new defensive line coach and possible co-coordinator after firing Greg Colby earlier this month.
The Illinois men's tennis team beat #6 Baylor earlier this season.
The Illinois golf team is used to being the underdog, but this season they are ranked number one and have a big target on their back.
Illinois head coach John Groce isn't using injuries as an excuse for Illinois' loss at Minnesota.
Illinois basketball signee Jalen Coleman-Lands helped La Lumiere defeat St. Louis Christian 72-55 at Parkland College in Champaign Saturday night. Coleman-Lands scored 17 points. He also unofficially had four rebounds, five assists, and one steal.
The Illini men's basketball team fell at Minnesota 79-71 Saturday. Illinois is now 3-5 in the Big Ten. Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill each had 18 points, while Jaylon had career-highs with 11 points and 9 assists. Minnesota's Andre Hollins had a game-high 28 points.
High School basketball scores and highlights
MAHOMET, Ill. - Mahomet-Seymour wrestling coach Rob Ledin won his 300th career dual meet Thursday night as the Bulldogs beat Central 54-21.
ARGENTA, Ill. - Taylor Edwards scored a game-high 27 points to lead Arcola to a 52-38 win over ALAH in the LOVC Northwest division championship game. The win was also the 700th victory in the long career of Purple Riders head coach Nancy Stiff. Arcola advances to face Hutsonville-Palestine in the LOVC Tournament championship Saturday night in Arthur.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Brittany Carter scored a team-high 15 points, but it wasn't enough as Northwestern edged Illinois 68-67 at State Farm Center.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It was a night Leron Black won't forget anytime soon. The freshman enjoyed several 'firsts', none bigger than his first career double-double. The Memphis-native scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. In his first career start he played a career-high 32 minutes. Purdue head coach Matt Painter called Black the best player on the floor, adding "it wasn't even close." Illinois head coach John Groce said Black lived up to his nickname - Savage. "I'm thrilled for him," Groce said after Wednesday's 66-57 win over Purdue. "His effort, his motor, how much he cares about winning, how hard he competes, his approach to practice, and it's been great."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois needed somebody to step up big to neutralize the big men of Purdue Wednesday night at State Farm Center. Leron Black and Nnanna Egwu answered the call leading Illinois to a 66-57 win. Black picked up his first career double-double scoring 15 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Egwu scored 11 points. He also added seven rebounds and five blocks. Those five blocks were enough for Egwu to break Deon Thomas' all-time career blocked shots record. Illinois improves to 13-7 overall, 3-4 in the Big Ten.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois junior shooting guard Aaron Cosby will miss the next 1-2 weeks due to a retinal tear in his left eye, according to the U of I. Cosby suffered the injury during Sunday's 80-74 loss to Indiana. He underwent a laser procedure on Monday and will be sidelined beginning with Wednesday's game vs. Purdue. Cosby, a transfer from Seton Hall, is averaging 7.8 ppg this season.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois fans are counting down the weeks until Rayvonte Rice returns from his broken hand; and while John Groce won't publicly release a timeline for his recovery, he did say by all indications Rice is on schedule. Groce said Tuesday it helps that the fracture is on the outside of Rice's non-shooting hand, so that should help the recovery. Illinois is 2-2 in four games without Rice, and Groce is hoping the Champaign-native will be back sooner rather than later. "Ray will let us know when Ray is ready," Groce said. "Obviously with the doctors and [athletic trainer Paul Schmidt] and myself, we're not gonna let him do out there. He'd like to play the other day. But within reason, you know I think his body will be telling him and the doctors will be telling us whether or not they think it's, 'Hey he's good to go, or he can start to be cleared for some contact.' And we're just going to follow their lead."
Boys, girls basketball; wrestling
MOWEAQUA, Ill. - In a season full of expectations the Central A&M girls basketball team has lived up to the hype. The Raiders are 20-0 and ranked third in the state's Class 1A poll. They have dominated nearly every opponent with their high-powered offensive attack and full court press defense. In one game earlier this year they had a 43-0 lead at halftime. "Winning is always fun," said senior guard Kaley Hennings. "You always want to have good competition and just to be able to go out there everyday and give it our all is fun."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Purdue visits State Farm Center to tangle with Illinois Wednesday night, and the Boilers are one of just four teams in the country with two players who stand 7-feet or taller. "They start a 7-footer, and then they come with a 7-footer off the bench," said Nnanna Egwu, Illinois' most established post defender. "It's just unique. It's one thing that makes their team good, so I think it's going be a team effort trying to contain those two big guys."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Kyle Hudson is already on campus and getting down to work as the newest volunteer assistant coach for Illinois baseball team. He was hired last week. The former Illini two-sport star and Mattoon grad has been in professional baseball since 2008, and he said he thought the time was right to call it quits and pass along his knowledge as a coach for the first time. "It was kind of quiet as far as organizations coming to me and asking me to play for them," Hudson said of his decision to retire. "Coach Hartleb gave me a call a couple weeks ago and said his volunteer assistant was leaving for a different job, and he asked if I wanted to possibly do that while I'm going back to school, and I thought it was just a great opportunity."