Things got a little bit easier for Chris Collins in his first year as the Northwestern head coach on Friday. Senior guard/forward Drew Crawford announced he would remain at Northwestern for his final season.
“I can’t wait to be on the court with my Northwestern teammates again this upcoming season,” Crawford said in a school statement. “Coach Collins has brought great energy to the program and we all believe in his vision.
“I have loved my experience here at NU and I’m proud to call it home. I’m ready to do all I can to lead this group and make my last year at Northwestern a great one.
“We’re all thrilled that Drew has decided to remain here at Northwestern for his fifth year,” Wildcats’ head coach Chris Collins said. “It obviously will be a tremendous asset to have him continue to be a part of the program, not only because of his ability on the court but he’s also an outstanding leader. Drew has invested a great deal into the program over the last four years. I look forward to having the opportunity to coach him and having him be a key member of our team.”
Crawford averaged 16.1 points per game as a junior and was a consensus third-team All-Big Ten selection that year. In 2012-2013, the 6-foot-5 Crawford torn his labrum after 10 games, requiring season-ending surgery.
Crawford graduates from Northwestern with a degree in economics this spring. He could have transferred to another program and would have been able to play right away. Instead he will remain with the Wildcats for the 2013-2014 campaign.
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.