How do you know you’re a big deal? When your likeness is plastered on a vending machine, that’s how. Former Wisconsin defensive end and current Houston Texan J.J. Watt now knows the feeling. The ex-Badger is featured on a vending machine that @JJWFoundation tweeted Thursday. Watt’s Twitter response: “Wow. I hope it dispenses sacks at will.”
A year from now, former Purdue QB Drew Brees will find his name high atop SI’s annual Fortunate 50, a list that ranks the year’s highest-earning American athletes. For this year’s list, though, former Michigan QB Tom Brady and ex-Michigan CB Charles Woodson represent the Big Ten. Brady came in at No. 26, making $22,250,000, and Woodson No. 50, earning $15,812,500.
Team USA tips off its Olympic training slate with its first exhibition game Thursday in Las Vegas. USA is stacked, per usual, and it’s the favorite to win gold next month in London. With the action about to start, I got to thinking: what if Team USA was comprised of only former Big Ten players, starting with the 2007-08 season (the BTN era)? See what my 12-man roster would look like in this post.
Technology is great, isn’t it? Nowadays, we can watch games on the go from our smartphones. We can even sign contracts without paper or pen. Not all of us, but some of us. Like former Illinois star Deron Williams, who used an iPad to sign his contract with the Brooklyn Nets early Wednesday morning. In Las Vegas with Team USA, Williams tweeted a picture of himself signing the contract, the tweet reading: “Officially a Brooklyn Net! Signed my contract on an iPad Just thank God for this wonderful Opportunity #HelloBrooklyn”
Team USA finalized its 2012 men’s basketball roster Sunday, and the Big Ten will be represented in Illinois’ Deron Williams. Williams, who helped the “Redeem Team” win gold during the 2008 games, will team with 11 other NBA superstars in search of another gold medal, starting July 29. Fifteen Big Ten players have suited up for USA and won a gold medal, not counting coaches, but Williams could become the first to win two. Check out the Big Ten’s history in the Olympics in this post.
Longing for some basketball? The 2012 NBA Summer League tips off July 9-13 in Orlando, with eight teams represented, and continues July 13-22 in Las Vegas, with a record 24 teams in action. They’ll be no shortage of Big Ten products involved, including 2012 first-round picks Meyers Leonard and Jared Sullinger. See all the Big Ten products who will be in action in this post.
Former Purdue catcher Kevin Plawecki is no stranger to hitting clutch home runs. It was only a little more than a month ago, in fact, that the Big Ten Player of the Year smacked this eighth-inning, go-ahead home run against rival Indiana in the Big Ten tourney title game featured here. Plawecki was up to his late-inning magic again Monday night, hitting his second career pro home run to tie the score in the ninth. Watch the home run here.
Late last week, it looked like former Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor, who went undrafted in Thursday’s NBA draft, would sign with the Milwaukee Bucks. There’s been a change of plans, according Wisconsin State Journal’s Jim Polzin, as Taylor has signed with the Atlanta Hawks. Polzin reports the decision had to do with Atlanta’s more favorable summer league schedule.
Illinois’ Meyers Leonard (No. 11, Portland), Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (No. 21, Boston), Michigan State’s Draymond Green (No. 32, Golden State) and Purdue’s Robbie Hummel (No. 58, Minnesota) were all selected in the 2012 NBA Draft on Thursday night. Relive all the selections with FoxSports.com’s Draft Tracker. Dive inside and see all the Big Ten picks, plus get the latest relevant tweets and school releases.
Thursday night is the night several former Big Ten basketball players have dreamed about their entire lives. In a matter of hours, guys like Meyers Leonard, Jared Sullinger and Draymond Green, among others, will hear their name called at the 2012 NBA Draft. When will they get picked? And by which teams? Dive inside this post for all of the latest mock drafts from around the web. And don’t forget to watch BTN.com’s NBA draft interviews and features before the event starts.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years, huh? The 2012 ESPY Awards will mark the 20th installment of ESPN’s annual awards show. It all happens Wednesday, July 11 at 9 p.m. ET in Los Angeles. As is the case every year, Big Ten products are up for their share of awards. See all of the Big Ten nominees in this post. Also, you can vote on the ESPY Awards here.
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What if the NBA drafted solely on NCAA production and didn’t stress potential or what a player could become? According to ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan, the Big Ten would dominate Thurday’s NBA draft lottery. After the obvious choice, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis at No. 1, Brennan has a Big Ten player making up the rest of his production-based mock top 5. See Brennan’s list in this post, plus get all your links to mock drafts.
It’s been a few years since Ricky Stanzi became a cult hero. If you don’t remember the exact moment, it happened when the former Iowa QB gave Fox’s Chris Meyers this quote following the 2010 Orange Bowl: “There is nothing better than being American. This is the greatest feeling. If you don’t love it, leave it. USA, No. 1.” The quote reads great, but it’s even better when you hear it.
Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose came so close to winning the ultimate prize as members of the Fab Five at Michigan. On Thursday night, Howard, an 18-year NBA veteran, finally got to raise the championship hardware as his Miami Heat won the NBA Finals. Where does Rose fit into all of this? He’s an analyst for ESPN, so he was able to congratulate his former teammate and celebrate with him in the locker room. Watch video of it, courtesy of BigTenTracker’s YouTube page in this post.
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article that breaks down which colleges produced the most minutes in the NBA during this strike-shortened campaign. Duke, to no surprise, landed at No. 1, with 21,609 minutes. But what about Big Ten teams? Ohio State (7,903 minutes) came in 13th to lead 10 Big Ten teams. See the breakdown and the players who contributed the minutes in this post.
I post this for my Purdue fans. I came across a Brad Miller shirt on the internet today, and it’s pretty awesome. The shirt, which can be purchased on skreened.com, features nine squares on the front, each one representing a different jersey Miller has worn during his career, starting with Purdue and ending with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Who doesn’t like a pair of Air Jordan’s? One former Big Ten football player is such a fan, the shoe makes up his birthday cake. Ex-Hawkeye Tyler Sash may have celebrated his birthday late last month, but we’re just now seeing his birthday cake, thanks to a tweet from NFL teammate and former Buckeye Jake Ballard (@NYG_J_Ballard85). See the cake in this post.
Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson didn’t expect to last until the final rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft. That’s what happened, though, and it made for some frustration and tense moments at his draft watching party. Eventually, Robinson heard his name — in the sixth round, to be exact. And while it came later than expected, Robinson is thrilled to be a San Francisco 49er. Watch a YouTube video of his draft watching party in this post.
Immediately following the 2012 NFL Draft on Saturday night, undrafted players began inking free-agent deals. The list of players continues to grow, but see the Big Ten products who have signed and check out some of their tweets in this post. Here’s the official list from NFL.com. And don’t forget about the 41 Big Ten players who were drafted during the three-day event.
Former Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus didn’t have to wait long to hear his name called during the 2012 NFL Draft. With the 26th pick of Thursday night’s first round, the Houston Texans selected Mercilus, the first of four Illinois players taken in the opening 48 picks. Check out all the Big Ten draft picks and see who inked free-agent contracts. BTN cameras were at Mercilus’ family draft watching party in Akron, Ohio, to capture the nerves and jubilation of the memorable night. Watch the behind-the-scenes feature now.
The 2012 NFL Draft came to a close Saturday night. Forty-one former Big Ten stars were selected during the three-day event in New York, including four first-rounders: Iowa’s Riley Reiff, Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus, Wisconsin Kevin Zeitler and Illinois’ A.J. Jenkins. Mercilus and Jenkins were the first of four Illini drafted in the first 48 picks. Even more impressive, four of the Big Ten’s first six players off the board were Illini. Catch up on the entire draft with FoxSports.com’s Draft Tracker and see all the Big Ten picks in this post.
The MLB season opens Wednesday, so it’s time to find out which Big Ten products are on MLB active rosters. See the entire list in this post. Forgetting a name? Send it in as a comment at the bottom.
Former Wisconsin basketball player Brian Butch was one of two guys named NBA Development League Co-Performers of the Week for games played March 12-18. The former BTN contributor — yes, he can blog, too — averaged 19 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in leading the Bakersfield Jam to two wins. As you might guess from the stats, Butch posted a pair of double-doubles. On the season, in eight games, he is averaging 18.4 points and 12 rebounds.
Former Michigan State star linebacker Greg Jones won a ring and handed one out Sunday night in Indianapolis. That’s right, the New York Giants’ rookie proposed to his girlfriend, Mandy Piechowski, as confetti fell from the rafters of Lucas Oil Stadium following Super Bowl XLVI. Evidently, Jones had practice squad tight end Christian Hopkins hold the ring during the game and give it to him after the final play. Piechowski said yes, of course (see pictures of the proposal!). And here’s a picture of the proud groom-to-be, courtesy of teammate Mark Herzlich’s Twitter account.
Fourteen former Big Ten players will be fitted for rings after the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots, 21-17, Sunday night in Super Bowl XLVI (AP recap). Ex-Michigan WR Mario Manningham highlighted the group with five receptions for 73 yards, including a ridiculous 38-yard grab (watch the catch!) that helped set up New York’s game-winning score in the final minute. See how all Big Ten products did in the Super Bowl in this post.