In their final season as a member of the WAC the Denver Pioneers managed to win a share of the regular season conference title, with forwards Chris Udofia and Royce O’Neale and guards Chase Hallam and Brett Olson leading the way.
O’Neale, a native of Kileen, Texas, made the request due to the health of his grandfather, according to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com.
“Royce has a personal situation at home in Killeen, Texas,” head coach Joe Scottsaid in a statement released by the school. “He has requested a release to explore schools that would place him in close proximity to his family. We are understanding and supportive, and therefore have granted Royce a release to those schools.
“As we do this, we are and have been working on a plan for him to stay at the University of Denver while also meeting and supporting his family needs. We are exploring all options to help him.”
If they’re able to work out something to where O’Neale is able to take care of the situation and remain at Denver, the Pioneers would be in position to be one of the preseason favorites to win the Summit League crown.
As a sophomore the 6-5 O’Neale averaged 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, leading the Pioneers in both rebounding and assists, earning third-team All-WAC honors.
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.