With all the chatter, deserved as it may be, for Indiana’s Victor Oladipo as the National Player of the Year over the past few weeks, we got a reminder Sunday from another player in the running.
While Oladipo has gotten the majority of the talk, Michigan guard Trey Burke continues to produce and did so again Sunday against Illinois in a 71-58 home victory at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. Burke scored 26 points on 8-of-11 shooting and dished out eight assists, all while only turning the ball over once.
The explanation for the shift in the national narrative is likely a simple one. Michigan had lost three of four in a tough stretch of the Big Ten schedule before winning two straight, while Indiana has retained the No. 1 ranking in the country and have won nine of its last ten.
The most interesting race might not be the National Player of the Year race, but rather just the Big Ten Player of the Year, with Burke and Oladipo looking to be at the top of the list.
Burke is the engine behind the Michigan offense, but Oladipo is the do-everything wing man who has turned out to be just as important, if not more important, than Preseason Player of the Year Cody Zeller. Among those who vote, will the more important factor be pure stats alone, or the complete game that goes beyond the box score?
Perhaps we’ll know more when Indiana meets Michigan in the regular season finale on March 10.
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.