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Local Sports

Illinois Lands Mr. Basketball, Mark Smith

The Illini men’s basketball team recorded a big win last night even without being on the court. Mark Smith, Mr. Basketball in Illinois, chose to play at the U of I next year. 
 
Smith a four star recruit from Edwardsville picked the Illini after hearing from the top teams in the nation. At the end he was picking from Illinois, Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke.
 
 
Smith averaged 22 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds a game last year. He’s also close with Jeremiah Tilmon who de-committed to Illinois but has yet to select another school to play for.

Bears Trade Up for QB Trubisky; Packers Trade Out of First Round

Mitchell Trubisky didn't see it coming either.
 
The Chicago Bears drafted their latest quarterback of the future in a stunner Thursday night, grabbing North Carolina's Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick after trading up a spot with the San Francisco 49ers and surrendering three draft choices to do it.
There was some thought the Bears might wait a round or two before taking a quarterback after signing Mike Glennon last month to replace the departed Jay Cutler. Instead, they swapped picks with the 49ers and gave them a third- and fourth-round choice this year plus a third-rounder next year. It was a surprising move, particularly since San Francisco general manager John Lynch was ready to take Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas at No. 2.
 
The 6-foot-2, 222-pound Trubisky had little contact with the Bears leading up to the draft. He met with them at the combine and had another meeting with them around his pro day last month.
 
Trubisky had a breakout junior season for the Tar Heels last year. He set the single-season the school's single-season record for yards passing (3,748), touchdowns (30) and total offense (4,056) in 2016. He ranked fifth in the country with a 68.0 completion percentage while throwing just six interceptions. He also ran for five touchdowns last season, after backing up quarterback Marquise Williams as a freshman and sophomore.
 
The Bears finished last in the NFC North at 3-13 in their second season under general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox. Years of shoddy drafting combined with a long list of injuries exposed a glaring lack of depth. It all added up to Chicago's lowest win total since the 1973 team went 3-11, the most losses since a 1-13 finish in 1969 and a busy offseason for a rebuilding team.
 
The Bears dumped Cutler after eight seasons and signed Glennon, giving them some leeway to wait on a QB. But Pace jumped at the opportunity to take Trubisky.
 
He might back up Glennon at first, though Chicago is counting on him to develop into the star quarterback the franchise has lacked so many seasons with his arm strength and quickness.
 
>>Packers Trade Out of First Round
 
After taking Myles Garrett with the first-overall pick, they traded down in the first round and landed Jabrill Peppers at No. 25. Not to be outdone, the Browns traded back into the first round for another selection, this time moving up from No. 33 to No. 29, swapping places with the Packers. And for their troubles, the Packers also get the Browns' 2017 fourth-round pick.
 
Cleveland, with needs up and down the roster, finally addressed the offense -- but not with a quarterback. Instead, it took one of the most athletic tight ends in the entire class, former Miami standout David Njoku, with the No. 29 pick.
 
The Packers meanwhile, are still looking for defensive help, either at pass rusher or in the secondary.

Cardinals Sweep Thursday Double Header, Series

After rallying late to win the first game, backed by Randal Grichuk's ninth-inning homer and Matt Carpenter's 11th inning grand slam, the Cardinals scored early and often in the nightcap to beat the Blue Jays 6-4 and sweep the doubleheader.
 
The Cardinals, who got back to .500 at 11-11, recorded 14 runs and 25 hits in the two games. The injury-plagued Blue Jays, the only team in the majors yet to win a series or consecutive games, fell to 6-16.
 
The Cardinals, who got three hits apiece from Dexter Fowler, Greg Garcia and Matt Adams in the second game, scored three times in the first inning.
 
After Fowler and Garcia hit back-to-back singles, Carpenter plated a run with a groundout and Stephen Piscotty hit an RBI sacrifice fly. Grichuk followed with an infield single and scored on Matt Adams' opposite-field double into the left field corner.
 
Fowler added a solo home run, his third of the season, in the second inning. Adams had an RBI single in the third. Piscotty had an RBI fielder's choice in the fourth to make it 6-0.
 
Matt Bowman (1-0) won the opener and the Cardinals' bullpen, which included seven different pitchers, combined to allow just one run on four hits in 7 2/3 innings over the two games.
 
Ryan Tepera (1-1) and Casey Lawrence (0-3) took the losses.
 
In the opener, the Cardinals scored four times off Toronto's bullpen in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to tie the score, capped by Randal Grichuk's homer off Roberto Osuna.
 
Yadier Molina led off with a double and Grichuk connected two outs later, giving Osuna his third blown save.
 
Mat Latos, making his second start of the season for Toronto, scattered three hits over six shutout innings, striking out four and walking four.
 
Carlos Martinez allowed three runs on five hits in six innings, with eight strikeouts and three walks.
 
Russell Martin hit a solo homer in the second, his third of the year.
 
Lance Lynn (2-1, 2.70) opens a three-game series against the visiting Reds. Lynn won his last two starts, against the Pirates and Brewers, allowing just one run on six hits over 13 innings.

Sox Win, Cubs Lose, Cardinals Rained Out

Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia homered to back run-starved starter Jose Quintana and the Chicago White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep.
Chicago won its fourth straight, while Kansas City dropped every game on a seven-game trip.
 
Quintana (1-4) had a season-high 10 strikeouts in six innings. He allowed five hits and two runs - one earned - and walked two. The left-hander received only four runs of support in his first four starts combined.
 
Avisail Garcia's two-run homer, his fourth of the season, went to deep center field in the sixth inning to give Chicago a 4-2 lead. Leury Garcia put a line drive over the fence in right to close the scoring in the seventh.
 
Right-hander Nathan Karns (0-2) was the loser.
 
>>Pirates Beat Cubs
 
Gift Ngoepe, the first African to reach the major leagues, singled in his first plate appearance and Josh Harrison led off the bottom of the first with a home run Wednesday night to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Ngoepe was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis and entered the game in fourth inning as part of a double switch and finished 1 for 2 with a walk. The 27-year-old South African, who signed with the Pirates in 2008 as an amateur free agent, led off the bottom of the fourth with a hit off winless Cubs ace Jon Lester.
 
A year after winning 19 games in helping the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908, Lester (0-1) is still looking for his first victory after five starts. The left-hander was tagged for six runs - five earned - and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
 
Wade LeBlanc (1-0), who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of rookie Tyler Glansow, got the win.
 
>>Cardinals, Blue Jays Canceled, Double-Header Thursday
 
The St. Louis Cardinals' game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night has been postponed because of rain.
 
The game has been rescheduled as part of a day-night doubleheader on Thursday. The first game will start as scheduled at 12:45 p.m. The makeup game will start at 6:15 p.m.
 
St. Louis ace Carlos Martinez, who is still in search of his first win, had been scheduled to start Wednesday night. Mat Latos was to start for Toronto.

Predators Outlast Blues

Vernon Fiddler scored with 5:05 left and P.K. Subban had a goal and two assists, powering Nashville to a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series on Wednesday.
 
The Predators lost Kevin Fiala to an ugly leg injury in the second period and blew a 3-1 lead before Fiddler poked a loose puck by Jake Allen in the third.
 
Colin Wilson and Filip Forsberg also scored for Nashville, and Pekka Rinne made 27 saves.
 
Colton Parayko, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka scored for St. Louis. Allen finished with 28 stops, but lamented the one he didn't make. He tried to poke check the puck away from Fiddler and instead it ended up getting past him.
 
Game 2 is Friday night.

Celtics Down Bulls For 3-2 Series Lead

Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley scored 24 points apiece to help the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 108-97 on Wednesday night and take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
After the road team won each of the first four games, the Celtics won at home in Game 5 to earn a chance to eliminate the Bulls on Friday night in Chicago. A Bulls victory would force the series back to Boston for a decisive Game 7 on Sunday.
 
Dwyane Wade had 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for Chicago.
 
But Wade and Robin Lopez were called for technical fouls 32 seconds apart with just under five minutes left, helping the Celtics to a 20-5 run that gave them a 104-89 lead.

Packers Add Pro Bowl Guard Evans

Six weeks after watching starting right guard T.J. Lang sign with the Lions, the Packers might have finally found his replacement. 
 
General manager Ted Thompson announced on Wednesday that the team has signed former Saints guard Jahri Evans in a move that should instantly help the Packers. 
The 33-year-old Evans arrives in Green Bay after spending his entire 11-year career in New Orleans. During his time with the Saints, Evans was voted to six Pro Bowls and named first-team All Pro a total of four times.
 
The Saints released him in February 2016 after he was unwilling to take a pay cut. 
 
Six months later, Evans finally found a job in Seattle, signing a deal with the Seahawks during the middle of training camp in August . 
 
The veteran lineman didn't last in Seattle very long, though. Despite their atrocious offensive line, the Seahawks decided to cut Evans before the 2016 regular season even started. 
 
The addition of Evans likely means the Packers won't necessarily have to spend a pick on an offensive guard during the NFL Draft, which kicks off on Thursday. 

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