Creighton fans got some great news late last week as two-time first-team All-American Doug McDermott announced that he will be returning to school for his senior season.
But he may not be the only Bluejay thought to be gone that could end up getting an extra season in Omaha.
Grant Gibbs was a fifth-year senior for Creighton last season, but he has only played three seasons during his five-year career. As a freshman at Gonzaga, he redshirted but would not have been able to play due to a shoulder injury. After playing as a redshirt freshman with the Zags, Gibbs transferred to Creighton. He redshirted once again while sitting out, but knee surgery would have kept him out for the year even if NCAA rules had allowed him to play.
An athlete has five years to use up his four seasons of eligibility, and the clock begins when the athlete enrolls in college. By the letter of the law, Gibbs’ career should be done.
Gibbs said his paperwork was submitted to [a law firm that specializes in dealing with NCAA issues] on Monday and Creighton was told it would likely receive an answer “sooner than later.”
“They indicated we should have an answer any day now,” Gibbs said. “If they indicate it would be worth pursuing, I would sit down with Coach Mac (Greg McDermott) and Ras (Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen) and discuss it.
“If it’s something they would want to pursue, I’d be more than willing.”
Gibbs is a valuable piece for the Bluejays. He’s an excellent distributor that can create off of the wing and in the pick-and-roll. His playmaking allows guys like Jahenns Manigat and Austin Chatman a chance to space the floor and get clean looks from the perimeter.
And his return should help take some pressure off of McDermott as Creighton makes their foray into the new Big East.
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.