With five seniors among its top six scorers, the ACC champion Miami Hurricanes will look far different in 2013-14. The one player among those six who isn’t due to graduate is sophomore point guard Shane Larkin, who proved to be one of the nation’s best point guards as the season progressed.
Larkin’s skill has put him in position to possibly leave school early to enter the NBA Draft, with many expecting Larkin to be a first round selection.
And in response to a tweet from Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post that he would forego his final two seasons of eligibility, Larkin denied the report and announced that he will make his decision public Sunday evening.
Don’t listen to whoever put the rumor out that I declared. It isn’t true. I will make an announcement Sunday at 6 about my future.
In 36 games Larkin averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game for the Hurricanes, who won their first-ever ACC title and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
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If Larkin were to move on to the professional ranks Miami’s leading returning scorer would be rising senior Rion Brown, who averaged 6.4 points per game in 2012-13. Brown would also be the lone returnee to average double-digit minutes (22.2 mpg), with center Tonye Jekiri (6.9 mpg) and forward Erik Swoope (6.0 mpg) being next in line in that regard.
Head coach Jim Larrañaga and his staff have signed two talented shooting guards in the 2013 class, Deandre Burnett and Davon Reed, and both figure to receive plenty of chances to earn playing time given how much Miami loses production-wise.
If Larkin were to return those two would get the chance to learn from one of the nation’s best floor generals. But if he goes, the task of returning to the NCAA tournament becomes incredibly difficult.
Miami hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons since making three straight appearances from 1998 to 2000.
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.