Mark McDermott, Kodi Maduka, Ethan Wragge

Kodi Maduka’s career ending should be a joyous event

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I feel for Kodi Maduka. I really do.

The 6-foot-11 center had his basketball career cut short on Thursday as the school announced that he is officially done with the sport. Maduka has a heart ailment, one serious enough to force him to miss game time on two different occasions during the season and serious enough that he collapsed during a practice in early April.

I’m sure there is nothing that young man would rather do than continue his hoops career. It sucks that it was cut short. There’s no other way to put it.

But today is not a sad day. Not in the least. Not for Maduka. Not for his family. Not even for Danny Manning and the Tulsa basketball team, who lose a guy that probably would have started at center.

Today should be a happy day, because while this decision means Maduka’s career will end with him finishing up his degree as strictly a student and not an athlete, it also means that basketball won’t kill him.

Maduka’s heart is a ticking time-bomb, one that has become all-too familiar for basketball fans, players and coaches. Everyone knows about Hank Gathers, who collapsed and died during a WCC tournament game back in 1990. Most in basketball circles know about Jeron Lewis, who passed away while playing in a game for Southern Indiana back in 2010. There are so many more tragic, untimely deaths of young athletes as a result of these heart ailments. It’s a subject that hits close to home for me. A friend of mine by the name of Stanley Myers died while jogging with teammates at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

It’s a nightmare that no one should experience, a nightmare that will never become a reality for the Maduka family.

Look, Kodi Maduka is not Anthony Davis. He’s not Andrew Wiggins. He’s not on a fast track to NBA stardom and eight figure annual salaries and millions upon millions upon millions in endorsement deals. Could he have made a living playing basketball? Probably, but there would eventually come a time when the ball stops bouncing, and I truly doubt that, at that point in his life, he would have the kind of money that would allow him to quit working.

And all of that is assuming that he stays healthy and motivated, receiving enough good luck to land in a league where salaries are guaranteed and are significantly more than what minimum-wage workers can make annually. The D-League pays less than $30,000-a-year.

Instead, Maduka will be allowed to keep his scholarship. He’ll leave Tulsa with a degree like any other student. He’ll struggle with figuring out what he wants to do with his life like any other graduate. He’ll get frustrated trying to land a job like every other kid in their early-20’s. He’ll be just like the rest of us.

Life goes on. Literally, in Kodi’s case.

Danny Manning called this outcome “heart-breaking” in a statement released by the university, which is ironic. It may have saved his heart.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

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.