Illini's Carlwell, Smith hurt when car hits tree

Updated: February 14, 2007, 7:59 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Brian Carlwell, one of two Illinois basketball players injured when their car went off the road and slammed into a tree on Monday night, is improving and has been upgraded to fair condition, the university announced in a statement Wednesday.

Jamar Smith
Smith

Brian Carlwell
Carlwell
Carlwell's parents arrived at the hospital on Tuesday morning from suburban Chicago and are staying with him.

Carlwell suffered a severe concussion in the single-car accident, according to Illinois spokesperson Kent Brown.

"The past few days have been very difficult for the Illinois basketball family. Fortunately, Brian Carlwell's health has continued to improve. He is currently listed in fair condition and was moved out of intensive care into his own room early this afternoon. He is expected to make a full recovery and should be discharged from the hospital within the next two days," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said in a statement released by the university.

Teammate Jamar Smith, who was driving, had a concussion as well. He was treated and released and, according to reports, should be fine physically.

"Jamar Smith has obviously been very shaken by the situation and went home to Peoria this afternoon to be with his family. We feel that support from his family is the most important thing for Jamar at this time," Weber said in the statement.

"We appreciate all the prayers and support from Illini fans throughout the country. We hope you will keep these two young men in your thoughts as they recover physically and emotionally from this unfortunate event, as well as our entire team as it continues through a season filled with adversity."

Police cited Smith for improper lane usage, Brown said, and campus police said Tuesday further action is possible depending on the investigation.

Smith, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, was driving on the outskirts of the campus when his car crossed the center line and struck a tree, university police said. It was snowing heavily in the area, but it wasn't known if that contributed to the accident.

Carlwell's parents traveled from their suburban Chicago home to see their 19-year-old son Tuesday, Brown said.

Illinois practiced Monday night and next plays Sunday when it hosts Northwestern. Weber canceled his regular Wednesday news conference.

It wasn't known when either player will be available to the team.

"The main concern here is the health of those guys and not playing status or any of that has been determined," Brown said.

Smith averages 8.1 points and Carlwell averages 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds.

"Certainly, our thoughts are on the health and recovery of our two student-athletes and in supporting Coach Weber and our basketball program," Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther said in a statement Tuesday.