U of Illinois Assembly Hall

Illinois’ Assembly Hall changes name to State Farm Center


Well, at least this will clear up any confusion in Indiana/Illinois circles.

Looks like Illinois is changing the name of its arena from The Assembly Hall, taking on a sponsor and dubbing it The State Farm Center. The news came via the school’s athletic website.

The arena shared a name with that of conference foe Indiana’s, but now there won’t be any issues — not that there ever really was one, I’ve haven’t heard many people confuse the two.

The contract is cash-laden for Illinois. The 30-year, $60 million agreement was reached in part to assist in the major renovation project the arena will be undergoing. It will reportedly be finished in the fall of 2016. The title sponsor, obviously, comes from State Farm Insurance.

“We are extremely proud to announce this relationship with State Farm, one of the most respected corporate brands in the world,” Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas said. “State Farm has been an outstanding partner for the University of Illinois for more than two decades, and this agreement will carry that partnership forward for at least three more. The Assembly Hall is one of the most recognizable structures in the nation and, at 50 years of age, has served the UI campus, community and Central Illinois very well. This agreement will ensure State Farm Center will serve those same constituents, and even more, for many years to come.”

The company and the school already have deep ties, with State Farm’s headquarters only 50 miles from campus. The insurance giant also has a research and development building named in their honor at Illinois.

The name change will go into effect immediately. The Fighting Illini have played in their Assembly Hall since 1963.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.