Doug McDermott announced he would return to Creighton for his senior season earlier this week. Conference realignment may be one of the reasons that helped influence McDermott’s decision.
The two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year will lead Creighton into the new Big East along with Butler, Xavier and the Catholic 7. The chance to be a part of the program’s new era was a big factor for McDermott, according to ESPN’s Andy Katz
“I thought about it quite a bit,” McDermott told ESPN. “My dad wasn’t pushing me to stay and I know he would have been proud if I left. But I truly care about Creighton and the fans and what they’ve done for me the last three years. I want to give them one more year and take care of business in the Big East so we can prove people wrong.”
“I don’t think that entered into the equation until this week,” add Greg McDermott. “I was adamant that it not be the factor. We got the facts and research from the NBA. But he did see the opportunity to play on the first Creighton team in the Big East. That’s something he’ll always have and you can’t take that away from him. I’m excited for him, to play in those venues. The emotion tugged at him. But there was connection to his teammates and to the fans and he wanted to embark on this new journey together. He wanted to be a part of that.”
On Thursday, McDermott announced that he would be back with the Bluejays for the 2013-2014 season, making them a tough opponent in the new Big East’s inaugural season. Gregory Echenique and Grant Gibbs leave the Creighton program this season, though Doug McDermott told Katz that sophomore point guard Austin Chatman has been playing well and Will Artino and Ethan Wragge can help in the frontcourt this season. Creighton also has a four-man class coming in with a trio of freshman and one JUCO commit.
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.