Typically, when a revered coaching genius retires, his school flounders to recover. Especially when he retires shortly before the beginning of a season. UConn will have an easier time than most, because Jim Calhoun’s hand-picked successor was already in the fold, in the guise of former Husky standout Kevin Ollie, who was hired as an assistant coach in 2010. Ollie has no previous head coaching experience, but he has the example of Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg to point to if anyone doubts him early on.
So, fans were excited to welcome Ollie during UConn’s recent First Night festivities, but the passing of the torch needed one other participant to be official. It’s easy to forget that UConn’s basketball faithful never really got a chance to publicly say goodbye to Jim Calhoun, the architect of the program’s greatness. On Friday night, they got that chance.
It all sounded very nice, very classy and very proper, until Amore dropped this bomb into his timeline:
Of course, he was talking about freshman phenom Omar Calhoun, who bested reigning champ Ryan Boatright to win the First Night dunk contest, but the moment’s frisson of disbelief I felt when reading that tweet, and the mental image it imparted, was epic.
And now I’ve passed that image on to you. That’s how much I love you, CBT nation.
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.