The two biggest reasons that Duke is once again considered a Final Four threat and a favorite to win a very strong ACC are incoming freshman Jabari Parker and rising sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon.
But two players won’t be enough to get the Blue Devils all that far in a season that many believe is as strong talent-wise as any in recent memory.
Enter Rodney Hood. The 6-foot-8 small forward was once a five-star recruit coming out of high school and averaged 10.3 points and 4.8 boards as a freshman on Mississippi State before transferring to Duke. He sat out all of 2012-2013 as a redshirt and was expected to have a huge year with the Blue Devils.
And hopefully, his Achilles’ won’t get in the way of that.
At the tryouts for the World University Games, Hood injured the Achilles’ in his right foot. The seriousness of the injury is not known, but most seem to be cautiously optimistic. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com is reporting that Hood’s injury was not in the same realm as the Achilles’ injury that sidelined Kobe Bryant, meaning that it’s not obvious he ruptured the tendon. Andy Glockner of SI.com was at the trials last night and spoke to Hood afterwards. He wrote that Hood “left the gym on crutches as a precautionary measure” but that he “didn’t seem to be in any great distress”.
We’ll update this story when more information is known.
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.