Well, there’s now one team that doesn’t have to worry about who will be coaching their program next year.
After taking over just two days before practice started for the 2012-13 season, Aki Thomas led Maryland-Baltimore County to a 7-22 record and a 5-11 mark in the America East Conference as interim head coach. That was good enough for Athletic Director Dr. Charles Brown, who officially removed the interim tag and gave Thomas the full-time gig on Monday.
“I have been impressed with Coach Thomas’ basketball acumen, as well as his positive approach with our student-athletes,” Dr. Brown said in a statement on the team’s website. “He has all the tools to be an outstanding head coach.”
Both the seven overall wins and five conference wins were the most for the Retrievers since the program went 15-17 overall and 7-9 in conference during the 2008-09 season. The program made its one and only trip to the NCAA Tournament the season before in 2007-08, winning the America East Conference tournament.
Thomas had spent the past three seasons as an assistant for UMBC before being named the interim coach. He spend three previous seasons as an assistant at Howard from 2004-07.
It’s a good thing for the program to have stability. It’ll help in recruiting, fund-raising and various other aspects over the off-season, whenever that comes for UMBC.
The Retrievers, who earned the no. 6 seed in the America East tournament, will play no. 3 seed Hartford in the first round at 2 p.m. Saturday in Albany, N.Y.
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.