After Tim Miles took the Nebraska job, it was easy to wonder how he was planning to upgrade the talent level in Lincoln. With outstanding facilities balanced by a lack of a nature recruiting ground, the Huskers’ aren’t exactly a destination location.
Some insight was provided as Miles named former Saint Louis assistant coach Chris Harriman to his staff, a native Australian who is noted for overseas recruiting prowess. As Harriman was hired, it became apparent that at least one or two of the new players that would end up at Nebraska would be international prospects in the 2013 class.
Harriman and Nebraska struck on Tuesday with a key international pledge, landing a pledge from 6-2 point guard Tai Webster, according to multiple reports. As a 17 year old player on New Zealand’s National Team, Webster put up compelling stats in a FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament, with 13 points per game and 52 percent shooting. Webster also has some boosters among those that watch basketball on a global level, and he is said to be an instant impact recruit at Nebraska.
Webster is great pickup, if he lives up to his advance billing. He’s part of a solid three man class that have all committed to Nebraska in less than two weeks, joining wings Nick Fuller and Nathan Hawkins. Fuller is the best candidate to be the recipient of some of Webster’s passes, as he is a knock down shooter off the catch and a top-150 player nationally. There’s significant geographic diversity, as Fuller hails from Wisconsin and Hawkins is a Texas native.
Miles still has some scholarship room to work with in the 2013 class, and he did pick up his share of high-profile transfers at Colorado State. He’s made no secret of attempting to make inroads in Chicago, and there’s always an international sleeper or two to be found. If Miles can get talent on campus to see the sparkling facilities, there’s a decent chance that he’ll have the talent incoming to put the program on the upswing in the treacherous ranks of the Big Ten.
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.