N.C. State’s search for a new coach will be fun to follow

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To the surprise of few, Sidney Lowe was kindly relieved of his duties as North Carolina State’s head coach this afternoon, “resigning” after five NCAA Tournament-less seasons in Raleigh.

Immediately this afternoon, rumors and unfounded reports matriculated around the interwebs suggesting possible replacements. Already, we’re hearing Arizona’s Sean Miller, Texas’ Rick Barnes, and Georgia’s Mark Fox as coaches that both the school and local media may be interested in bringing in to man the sidelines at the RBC Center.

But here’s the caveat to all these lofty names: NC State is not a destination for premier head coaches…and this preliminary speculation is laughable.  So give me a day to enjoy this, then I would appreciate if the entire Wolfpack athletic department and community dial down their expectations for a known commodity to come in and infuse excitement into the basketball program.

Locally, the NC State head basketball not only competes for face time, he competes for talent. With the exception of the late signing of C.J Leslie in 2010, the last homegrown McDonalds All-American to sign with the Wolfpack was Scooter Sherrill in 2000. Do you even remember him?  I was even tweeted that NC State is the “fourth best coaching job in the ACC.” Not only this that up for debate, it’s probably not something to really even boast about.

So how should the athletic department diagram this up?  If they can’t get the recently relieved Jeff Capel – who will certainly rebound after an ugly two seasons in Norman – I suspect the next the head coach of NC State will come from the lowest seeded low-/mid-major team that reaches the second weekend of the upcoming tournament.  The Wolfpack, after striking out trying to lure a few BCS-conference coaches already with a seven-figure contract and secure gig, will panic, and likely pluck college basketball’s latest sweetheart, a coach likely blinded by the opportunity to coach with a higher salary,  budget, and recruiting breadth, overlooking the challenges that await.

Nearly every year, this sort of instant success has propelled lesser known coaches to much higher ground. We’ve seen it with a bevy of names – some for better or worse. Guys like Dan Munson, Bruce Pearl, Todd Lickliter, Stan Heath, have all climbed the coaching ladder quicker than others due primarily because of coaching a Cinderella.

Bottom line, I’m excited to watch it unfold, if not for the pure unintentional humor it provides. If Oregon can’t get Tom Izzo, North Carolina State can’t get whoever the heck they’re salivating over on this very evening.

Jalen Coleman-Lands cleared to practice

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Jarrod Uthoff #20 of the Iowa Hawkeyes defends against Jalen Coleman-Lands #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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When Illinois takes on Southeast Missouri State in the opener of the 2016-17 season, the Fighting Illini should have it’s starting backcourt out on the floor.

According to Jon Rothstein, Jalen Coleman-Lands has been cleared for all basketball activities. The sophomore two-guard has been recovering from a broken bone in his right hand.

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.

Coleman-Lands will team up with Tracy Abrams, a point guard who was granted a sixth year of eligibility after missing the past two seasons due to injuries.

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.

NBC Sports projected Illinois to finish eighth in the Big Ten this season.

Curtis Jones jumps over Tom Crean

Tom Crean
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Indiana held its annual Hoosier Hysteria on Saturday night.

One of the highlights from the team’s dunk contest was when freshman guard Curtis Jones jumped over Indiana head coach Tom Crean.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a newcomer us his coach as a dunk contest prop. Last week, Rawle Alkins cleared Arizona head coach Sean Miller en route to a reverse jam.

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.

WATCH: Edmond Sumner take off from the foul line

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Edmond Sumner #4 of the Xavier Musketeers dunks the ball during the game against the St. John's Red Storm at Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Edmond Sumner is a big reason why Xavier is likely going to be a preseason top-10 team.

On Saturday night, during Musketeer Madness, Sumner won the team’s dunk contest when he took off from the foul line.

Sumner defeated freshmen Tyrique Jones and Quentin Goodin. J.P. Macura, the reigning Big East Sixth Man of the Year, took home the honors last year.

The 6-foot-6 redshirt sophomore is coming off a debut season in which he averaged 11.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

WATCH: Duke goes crazy for Chase Jeter’s bottle flip

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Chase Jeter #2 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on in the second half against the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The bottle flip has become an international sensation in recent months.

It’s as simple as it sounds: flipping a water bottle in the air, attempting to have it land upright.

Duke sophomore forward Chase Jeter, in front of 9,300-plus fans, successfully pulled off the bottle flip on Saturday night at Duke’s Craziness.

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.

Auburn to honor Charles Barkley with a statue

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04:  Former NBA player and commentator Charles Barkley looks on prior to the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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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.

His number 34 is retired at Auburn.