Mississippi State seems destined for a rebuilding year (or a few) after the departure of coach Rick Stansbury.
But, new head coach Rick Ray took his first step toward shaping the future of the Bulldogs, grabbing the signature of Jacoby Davis, a North Carolina native who spent this past season at Northwestern Military Academy (Wisc.).
On the year, Davis averaged 21 points and five rebounds per game.
Before signing with Mississippi State, Davis was drawing interest from schools that include North Florida, Houston, Quinnipiac, and Wyoming.
Mississippi State suffered big losses after Stansbury’s departure. In addition to the graduation of Dee Bost, Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney are headed to the NBA draft and Rodney Hood announced that he would transfer.
The Bulldogs finished 21-12 on the year, missing the NCAA tournament and losing in the first round of the NIT tournament to Massachusetts.
Mississippi State will lose six of its top seven scorers from last season.
Ray made the move from Clemson, where he was an assistant coach, to the head position with MSU. Previous to that, he was with Purdue, Northern Illinois, and Indiana State.
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.