Greene County Daily Word

Matt Graves inks first recruit at South Alabama

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Just a little over a month on the job, first year South Alabama coach Matt Graves announced the signing of 6-8 forward Austin Karazsia as his first recruit.

Graves, who was Brad Stevens’ right-hand-man at Butler during their back-to-back Final Four runs, and South Alabama made headlines in late March when the Jaguars announced the hiring. Just weeks later, Graves hired former steady Butler point guard Ronald Nored to his staff.

Karazsia, who excels on the gridiron perhaps as well on the hardwood passing for 3,328 yards and 42 touchdowns last fall at Linton-Stockton High School, hails from the Hoosier state living just less than 90 miles from the Butler campus.

Is Graves transforming South Alabama into Butler South? Probably too soon to make a bold statement like that, but one cannot help but make that parallel with Nored and now Karazsia heading south to Mobile, AL to join Graves.

In a release from the South Alabama athletic department on May 2nd, Graves had this to say about Karazsia:

“I am very excited that Austin has decided to join the Jaguar basketball family. He really fits in with our program’s vision and values. We believe his upside is tremendous now that he will be able to focus year-round on basketball after having an outstanding career as a two-sport athlete.”

Karazsia led Linton-Stockton to a 24-4 record last season and to the Class 2A state championship game and his coach, Joey Hart, had this to say about the gifted multi-sport athlete:

“Austin combines work ethic, size, intelligence and a skill-set that allows him to continually improve. He shoots awfully well for a kid his size and he doesn’t run like a big kid—he’s athletic and can move, but the biggest thing with him, is his work ethic and intelligence. It’s two intangibles that give him a great chance to succeed.”

“Work ethic” and “intelligence” are two intangibles that seemingly describe every successful Butler basketball player during Matt Graves’ tenure as an assistant coach with the Bulldogs — he was named as the associate head coach in 2010. In fact, these descriptors are an apt depiction of what Ronald Nored brought to the Butler program from 2008-2012.

The late 2013 signing is attributed to Karazsia deciding to pursue basketball at the collegiate level, rather than football. If history tells us anything, it is that having a good deal of success in football at the quarterback position — a highly cerebral one at that — will bode well for Karazsia on the court; one has to look no further than Aaron Craft and Greg Paulus who were both high school star quarterbacks.

If we are to glean anything from Karazsia’s commitment to South Alabama, it is that Matt Graves may be developing a pipeline straight from his old recruiting grounds in Indiana.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

Jalen Coleman-Lands cleared to practice

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Jarrod Uthoff #20 of the Iowa Hawkeyes defends against Jalen Coleman-Lands #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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When Illinois takes on Southeast Missouri State in the opener of the 2016-17 season, the Fighting Illini should have it’s starting backcourt out on the floor.

According to Jon Rothstein, Jalen Coleman-Lands has been cleared for all basketball activities. The sophomore two-guard has been recovering from a broken bone in his right hand.

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.

Coleman-Lands will team up with Tracy Abrams, a point guard who was granted a sixth year of eligibility after missing the past two seasons due to injuries.

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.

NBC Sports projected Illinois to finish eighth in the Big Ten this season.

Curtis Jones jumps over Tom Crean

Tom Crean
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Indiana held its annual Hoosier Hysteria on Saturday night.

One of the highlights from the team’s dunk contest was when freshman guard Curtis Jones jumped over Indiana head coach Tom Crean.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a newcomer us his coach as a dunk contest prop. Last week, Rawle Alkins cleared Arizona head coach Sean Miller en route to a reverse jam.

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.

WATCH: Edmond Sumner take off from the foul line

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Edmond Sumner #4 of the Xavier Musketeers dunks the ball during the game against the St. John's Red Storm at Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Edmond Sumner is a big reason why Xavier is likely going to be a preseason top-10 team.

On Saturday night, during Musketeer Madness, Sumner won the team’s dunk contest when he took off from the foul line.

Sumner defeated freshmen Tyrique Jones and Quentin Goodin. J.P. Macura, the reigning Big East Sixth Man of the Year, took home the honors last year.

The 6-foot-6 redshirt sophomore is coming off a debut season in which he averaged 11.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

WATCH: Duke goes crazy for Chase Jeter’s bottle flip

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Chase Jeter #2 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on in the second half against the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The bottle flip has become an international sensation in recent months.

It’s as simple as it sounds: flipping a water bottle in the air, attempting to have it land upright.

Duke sophomore forward Chase Jeter, in front of 9,300-plus fans, successfully pulled off the bottle flip on Saturday night at Duke’s Craziness.

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.

Auburn to honor Charles Barkley with a statue

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04:  Former NBA player and commentator Charles Barkley looks on prior to the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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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.

His number 34 is retired at Auburn.