Feb. 28, 2011
When looking back at the milestone achievements of African-Americans in Big Ten athletics, another celebration of Black History Month continues on the court, on the field, on the diamond and in the classrooms across the Big Ten universities. Take a look at some of the current Big Ten student-athletes or coaches whose everyday contributions to forwarding the conference mission also continue to build a rich tradition of black history in Big Ten athletics.
Illinois Men's Track and Field
Andrew Riley has had quite the two and a half years competing on the Illini track and field team. Riley recently earned his third-straight 60-meter hurdles title at the 2011 Big Ten Championships after capturing the 110-meter hurdles national title at the NCAA Championships last year. That win, which gave Illinois its first NCAA Champion since 1996, topped off a sophomore campaign in which Riley was tabbed as both the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and Track Athlete of the Championships following conference titles in both the 100-meter dash and 110-meter hurdles.
As a freshman last year, Micah Johnson hit .312 at the plate with 11 home runs - the ninth-most for a freshman nationally. Johnson also had 15 doubles, three triples, 53 runs and 42 RBI in starting every game for the Hoosiers. This year Johnson had maintained that success, batting .321 while starting each contest so far.
Starring as a middle blocker on the Iowa volleyball team, Chante' Thompson played in a total of 40 sets in 16 matches, including six starts as a freshman. She recorded a career-best six kills in her first collegiate start at Northern Illinois and then matched that total in Big Ten play against Minnesota and Indiana.
Quarterback Denard Robinson completed the 2010 football season as a Football Writers Association of America All-American at running back, the Chicago Tribune Silver Football winner as the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player, and the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, becoming just the second Michigan QB to be selected. Robinson, who finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy race, was the first quarterback in NCAA history to rush and pass for more than 1,500 yards in a season. He led the Big Ten and ranked fourth nationally with 130.9 rushing yards per contest and his 1,702 yards on the ground were a new conference record for signal callers, shattering the previous mark of 1,270 yards set by Indiana's Antwaan Randle El in 2000. Robinson also ranked among the top 20 nationally with a pass efficiency rating of 149.6, completing 182 of 291 passes for 2,570 yards. He tallied 14 rushing touchdowns and 18 passing scores.
Michigan State Women's Basketball
Kalisha Keane just guided her Michigan State team to its first ever outright Big Ten Championship and helped the Spartans to the No. 1 seed in the 2011 Big Ten Tournament. A three-time honorable mention All-Conference selection and the 2009-10 Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year, Keane is the only active player in the conference with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 200 steals. During her career at MSU, Keane is averaging 11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.9 steals.
Jenessa White is set to take to the water this year as a sophomore rower for the Golden Gophers. As a freshman, she competed in her first Big Ten Championships as a member of the Second Novice Eight boat. She was a member of the 2N8 that defeated Kansas, raced with the 2N8 at the Double Duals, and with the Minnesota B boat, won the Collegiate Novice B Final at the San Diego Crew Classic.
Now in her senior season in Evanston, Michelle Batts is focused on putting the final touches on a decorated career with the Wildcats. Three times an All-Big Ten second team selection, Batts has been a constant in the Northwestern lineup, having started all 56 games a freshman, 44 outings in 2009, and 47 contests in 2010. She has also been honored twice by the NFCA - an All-Region second-team member in 2008 and a first-team All-Region selection in 2010. Batts also earned a spot on the Big Ten Tournament All-Tournament team in 2008. This year she is currently hitting .270 at the plate with four doubles and eight runs batted in.
Ohio State Men's Basketball
Perhaps no freshman around the country has made the impact that Jared Sullinger has made in his first year with the Buckeyes. A finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award, given annually to the nation's top freshman, Sullinger is also among the top 30 candidates for the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, given to the National Player of the Year. He has started all 29 games, averaging team-leading totals of 17.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per game and has scored in double-digits in 26 of 29 games this season. Sullinger is no stranger to being honored by the conference, as he has earned 11 Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors this year, including six straight, as well as four conference Player of the Week awards.
Penn State Women's Track & Field
Shavon Greaves recently helped her Nittany Lions to a second-place finish at the 2011 Big Ten Championships by winning another championship in the 200-meter dash with her 23.67 automatic-qualifying time, as well as a win by the 4x400 relay team. Greaves dominated the Big Ten competition last year, winning the 60 and 200-meters at the conference's indoor championships, while also claiming the 100- and 200-meter dashes for the second consecutive year during the outdoor season. Greaves also picked up another Big Ten title as a member of the winning 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays at the 2010 Big Ten Outdoor Championships. At the NCAA Indoor Championships, she scored a bronze-medal finish in the 200-meters, the highest individual NCAA finish of her career. She also earned All-America honors in the 60-meters, placing 11th overall in 7.34. Greaves tallied another All-America honor at the 2010 NCAA Outdoors with a seventh-place finish in the 200-meters. In addition, she was a member of PSU's fourth-place 4x400 meter relay.
Purdue Men's Basketball
One of the Boilermakers' top scorers, E'Twaun Moore stole headlines recently after pouring in a career-high 38 points on 13-of-18 shooting, including 7-of-10 from beyond the arc, in Purdue's upset of No. 2 Ohio State. Moore is among the top 30 candidates for both the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy and is a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. He is also just the third player in program history with 2,000 points and 500 rebounds for his career and is just six three-pointers shy of setting the all-time career mark in school history. Moore enters the final week of the regular season ranked fourth in the conference with 18.5 points per game, while owning 5.3 boards, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals per outing.
Several honors came James White's way during his freshman year as the Wisconsin running back was tabbed as the consensus Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a second-team All-Conference honoree. White became the second straight Badger to garner Big Ten Freshman of the Year laurels after linebacker Chris Borland was honored in 2009. White ranked fourth in conference play with 108.6 rushing yards per contest. For all games, he led the Badgers with 1,052 rushing yards (87.7 yards per game) and 6.7 yards per carry with 14 rushing touchdowns.