Last month Dayton, Ohio and the University of Dayton embarked on a campaign to keep the First Four in town as opposed to the NCAA shopping the beginning of the NCAA tournament around to the highest bidder.
And while the school and city hoped for a long-term commitment from the NCAA, Monday’s news is a step in the right direction for Dayton.
The NCAA will leave the First Four in Dayton through the 2015 NCAA tournament, and the possibility a long-term deal down the line remains on the table according to a source.
“It has to be clear, no matter where any visitor travels in the Dayton area that week, that Dayton is the center of the college basketball world when the NCAA comes to town,” Dayton vice president and athletic director Tim Wabler said back in October.
“We have the chance to cement the First Four in Dayton for years to come. It’s our goal to make Dayton as synonymous with the First Four as Omaha is with the College World Series.”
Today’s decision gives the city two more years to display this in hopes of making Dayton the first stop on the trek to the Final Four. And with the Final Four being an event that doesn’t have a fixed location like the College World Series, that isn’t a bad idea.
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.