Illinois forward Bill Cole steps up as emotional leader
Remember, it was Cole who led Richwoods High School to the state championship as a junior and nearly prevented Derrick Rose from the first of two titles at Simeon.
So, when Cole found himself spending the bulk of his time seated in his warm-up gear during his first two seasons for the Illini, he struggled with his new role. He wanted to score as he once did. He wanted the double-doubles he once pulled in on a nightly basis. He wanted to be that star he once was.
It took some time for Cole to grasp, but now in his third year he understands where his game stands.
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Powers is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997. He joined ESPNChicago in May 2009 and lives in Chicago.
Rittenberg joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four years at the Daily Herald, where he covered sports at Notre Dame, Northwestern, DePaul and several other colleges. He lives in Chicago and writes for the Big Ten blog.
Bennett joined ESPN.com in August 2008 after nine years at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he covered college sports and the University of Louisville beat. He lives in Louisville and writes for the Big Ten blog.
Fortuna joined ESPN.com in 2011 after working for MLB.com and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where he covered college sports. He grew up in New York and is a Penn State graduate. Fortuna's Notre Dame blog is here.
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