2009-10 record: 28-8 (11-5), tied for second in Big 12 Lost to Duke in Elite Eight Coach: Scott Drew, 109-103, 7 years (129-114 overall) Last NCAA miss: 2008 2010-11 roster [click here] 2010-11 schedule [click here]
The good: If there was such a thing as a team dunk contest, Baylor would it. Easily.
Junior forward Quincy Acy made a D-I best 69.7 percent of his shots, mostly by dunking at every opportunity. Fellow junior Anthony Jones blossomed by season’s end (dunking more helped). And heralded freshman Perry Jones? You guessed it. The kid can jam. Word of advice to opponents: Get out of the way, or get posterized. If that’s not enough, senior guard LaceDarius Dunn led the team in scoring (19.8 ppg) by virtue of hitting 42 percent of his 3s. Added bonus: He’s also a nasty dunker.
The bad: The Bears will miss point guard Tweety Carter, who ran the show the previous three seasons, usually superbly. Sophomore A.J. Walton will likely fill that role in 2010-11, but he lacks Carter’s feel for the game (though he can shoot, making 46 percent of his 3s). When it comes to crunch time, Dunn will have the ball, which could make Baylor one-dimensional when it matters most.
The unknown: Dunn’s playing status, which is a biggie. The 6-4 senior was suspended indefinitely after being charged with aggravated assault for an incident in late September involving his girlfriend. He was just allowed back to class on Thursday by school officials, meaning a short suspension is likely, but there could be more issues if police press charges.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.