According to the school Williams, who averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 assists last season, won’t be able to return to game action until January 17 against Marist (first game of the spring semester, which begins on January 14).
“He is still on the team, he is still practicing, we are not going to turn our back on R.J.,” head coach Jimmy Patsos told Don Markus of the Sun.
Patsos did note that the suspension had nothing to do with academics, and according to the paper athletic director Jim Paquette cited federal student privacy laws in refusing to disclose a more descriptive reason for the suspension.
But while it does hurt to lose a starter, Loyola doesn’t lack for options when it comes to accounting for the loss of Williams.
Junior guard Dylon Cormier finished second on the team in scoring last season (13.4 ppg) while also averaging 1.8 assists per game, and senior Robert Olson (11.1 ppg, 1.9 apg) is a capable of making things happen as well.
Of the two Cormier is the one likely to slide over into a primary ball-handler role, and newcomers such as Jarred Jones, Eric Laster and Damian Rashford should have an opportunity to earn playing time on the wing.
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.