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Nick Hardy

Two early birdies in Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open had Hardy still in contention near the top of the leaderboard at The Country Club in Brookline, Ma. Playing the next 13 holes in 4-over dropped Hardy out of legitimate contention, but the former Illini and 2018 Big Ten Golfer of the Year still tied for 14th for a $241,302 payday. It was Hardy’s best career finish in a major and best finish in 15 starts on the PGA Tour this season. Beyond accounting for essentially one-third of his career earnings, Hardy’s standout U.S. Open performance earned him key FedEx Cup points. The Northbrook native now ranks 160th in the FedEx Cup standings, and a top-125 finish by the end of the season would mean keeping his PGA Tour card another year.

Ayo Dosunmu

Dosunmu’s proclamation that there weren’t 37 players better than him after he was selected No. 38 by the Chicago Bulls in the 2021 NBA draft turned out to be rather prophetic. The 6-foot-5 guard finished his debut season as a second-team All-Rookie pick after averaging 8.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds for the Bulls. The former Illinois guard and Chicago native was one of two second-round picks, along with the New Orleans Pelicans’ Herb Jones, to finish among the top 10 rookies in the league. Dosunmu started 40 of 77 games for injury-plagued Chicago during the 2021-22 season and was significantly more productive in that role, putting up 10.9 points, 5.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game as the Bulls’ starting point guard.

Vanessa DiBernardo

The Illinois Hall of Famer remains a key cog for the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL. DiBernardo was the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NWSL draft, and only a hip injury in 2018 that cost her a couple months has kept her off the field. The 30-year-old midfielder has started all nine matches for Chicago this season and serves as a connector to Red Stars’ standout forward Mallory Pugh, who is the No. 3 goal scorer in the league. DiBernardo has a 79.6 completion percentage on 398 total passes in nine matches this season and has a better than 50 percent mark defensively on tackles, duels and aerial duels. The Naperville native hasn’t scored yet this season, but has put two of five shot attempts on goal in limited attacking opportunities.

Reggie Corbin

The Michigan Panthers might not have had a successful season in the relaunched USFL, but the blame for a 2-8 finish — third in the North Division and seventh of eight overall — doesn’t fall at the former Illinois running back’s feet. Corbin finished the regular season ranked fourth in the league in rushing with 95 carries for 519 yards and two touchdowns in eight games. That level of production, which included an 88-yard touchdown run in an early May loss, was reminiscent of his breakout 2018 season in Champaign. It made Corbin the only Michigan player named to the All-USFL team earlier this month. The USFL season marked Corbin’s pro debut after two years spent simply training, but his showing this spring could perhaps open the door to more opportunities.

Michael Massey

Massey is one step away from baseball’s major leagues following his June 14 call-up to the Omaha Storm Chasers, which is the Class AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The former Illinois second baseman was raking for the Arkansas Naturals, batting .305 with a .492 slugging percentage and what was then a Class AA-leading 48 RBI. Still finding his footing at the plate in Class AAA with a .263 average and eight strikeouts in his first six games with the Storm Chasers, the Palos Park native is still impeccable in the field. The 2021 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner as the best defensive second baseman among all 11 full season minor leagues, Massey has zero errors in 205 total chances across 4461/3 innings in Class AA and Class AAA combined.

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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