Missouri will once again be without Michael Dixon on Saturday when they open up their season against SIU-Edwardsville.
Dixon was suspended indefinitely from the team a couple of weeks ago and missed both of the team’s exhibitions. According to this report from the KC Star, Dixon returned to practice last week after missing time, but he still has some work to do to clear up some off-the-court issues.
“He still needs some time to clear up some stuff off the court,” head coach Frank Haith said. “We still love him and support him but we’re excited about the guys we have that are available to play this weekend.”
It’s unclear just how long the suspension is going to last, but Dixon would be a major loss for the Tigers if it is for an extended period of time. His ability to play as a combo-guard alongside Phil Pressey — and the fact that’s he’s a tenacious on-the-ball defender — is part of the reason that I am so high on the Tigers heading into the season.
Missouri won’t play a game that they really need Dixon until November 22nd, when they head to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis.
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.