The Big East put out a release today announcing that Tulsa will become an all-sports member of the conference as of July 1st, 2014.
To clarify, Tulsa is not joining the Catholic 7, which will be splitting off from the Big East and bringing the name along with them. Tulsa is joining the remnants of that league, which will be headlined by the likes of UConn, Cincinnati, Memphis and South Florida.
Tulsa will be the 11th all-sports member in the conference, and when Navy joins as a football-only member in 2015, the soon-to-be-renamed Big East will have 12 teams and will be able to host a championship game.
From a basketball perspective, this isn’t a bad addition, as Tulsa has a reputation for being a program that can make tournament runs and launch coaching careers. Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith, Bill Self and Buzz Peterson all can claim being the head coach of the Golden Hurricane on their current resume. Billy Gillispie, Flip Saunders, Kevin O’Neill, Tom Izzo and Mike Anderson have all been assistant coaches there. Currently, Danny Manning is the Tulsa head coach.
They haven’t been to the tournament in a decade, and few recruits know of the program’s relevance.
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.