Balado was originally headed north to Minnesota with new head coach Richard Pitino and even joined the staff in Minneapolis. But he resigned from the position last week, opening the door for him to join Rick Pitino’s staff at Louisville.
Balado has never worked for the elder Pitino but obviously there is some familiarity given the connection noted above.
“Mike brings a wealth of experience in both the recruiting world and in coaching,” said Pitino in a statement released by the school. “An important factor in adding him to our staff was his knowledge of what we do defensively and in scouting, after working with Richard for a year.
“It should not take a great deal of time in acclimating him to our program. He’s a tireless worker and he should fit like a glove. He also brings another facet to our recruiting efforts, as he speaks fluent Spanish and has connections throughout Latin America.”
Balado has been coaching since wrapping up his college playing days at St. Thomas University in Miami in 1997, holding positions at the Division I level at Florida Atlantic, Miami and High Point at various points in his career.
Balado joins Kevin Keatts and Wyking Jones as assistants on Pitino’s staff, with former Louisville guard Andre McGee serving as the director of basketball operations.
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.