Top 50 most important Illini: No. 25: Del'Shawn Phillips, LB

Best of ... Illini

No. 25: Del'Shawn Phillips, LB

Top 50 teams in 2017: No. 25, Boise State

Coach: Bryan Harsin

2016 record: 10-3

Projected 2017 record: 10-2

Circle the date: Sept. 9 at Washington State

Bowl trip: Las Vegas

Rajic keeps setting, meeting new goals

By the time Ema Rajic swam the 50-meter freestyle at the Phillips 66 National Championships in Indianapolis last Saturday, she began to feel the burn of the previous days' workload.

The meet, after all, was a five-event, seven-race marathon for the rising senior at Uni High.

Brad Underwood: The podcast

CHAMPAIGN — Thursday marks the start of a recruiting dead period that runs the rest of July. That means no in-person contact between coaches and players at any time on or off campus.

Not that coaches won't get another look at their recruiting targets. Three evaluation periods dot the July recruiting landscape, with the first starting July 12 and running through July 16.

Paul makes his case to Dallas

ORLANDO — Brandon Paul's push for an NBA roster spot continued full force Wednesday afternoon in the Orlando Summer League. The former Illinois guard scored 14 points in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 20 points in the Dallas Mavericks' 96-75 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

PODCAST: SportsTalk 7-5-17

PODCAST: SportsTalk 7-5-17: Play now!

Scott Beatty and Loren Tate listen to Illini men's basketball coach Brad Underwood and to former Illini men's basketballer Brandon Paul, and they talk with Scott Wuerz from the Belleville News-Democrat.


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Top 50 most important Illini: No. 26, Dominic Thieman

Best of ... Illini

No. 26: Dominic Thieman, WR

Top 50 teams in 2017: No. 26, Pittsburgh

Best of ... Teams

No. 26: Pittsburgh

Coach: Pat Narduzzi

2016 record: 8-5

Projected 2017 record: 9-3

Circle the date: Sept. 9 at Penn State

Bowl trip: Music City

Turner: 'They will be much improved'

CHAMPAIGN — Ron Turner had options to return to football, both in the NFL and college, after Florida International fired him following an 0-4 start to the 2016 season. The former Illinois coach decided he wouldn't just jump at any opportunity, however, only interested if Stanford or the Carolina Panthers came calling.

Freedom 5K: The home stretch

Ryan Root told himself that as soon as his streak of six straight wins in the Freedom 5K in Champaign ended, he'd be finished with the race. And as former North Central College teammate and Monticello graduate Matt Norvell pulled away with half a mile left, Root thought his run was over.