Illinois’ Hester will redshirt this season

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Illinois forward Jerry Hester, who has missed all but five games after undergoing back surgery, said Wednesday he will sit out the rest of his senior season, redshirt and return next year.
Hester, who is scheduled to graduate in May, will attend graduate school and pursue a master’s degree in communications.
He had back surgery in December, and averaged 14.2 points and 5.6 rebounds during the five games he played. The Illini are 16-6 overall and 6-4 in the Big Ten after beating Northwestern 70-58 on Wednesday.
“It wasn’t the pain. I just don’t have my explosiveness. It’s just not there right now,” Hester said. “I wanted to get 100 percent and it’s just not there.”
Illinois coach Lon Kruger said he didn’t want Hester to play unless he was at peak form, so the decision to redshirt was made. Hester has been attending practices.
“The response obviously wasn’t anywhere where it needed to be to play effectively,” Kruger said. “We’ll be glad to have him back next year.”
The 6-foot-6 Hester is from Peoria, Ill. He averaged 10.8 points as a sophomore and 11 points as a junior. Illinois will visit Williams Arena to play the Gophers on Feb. 22.