Nunn, a 6-3 guard from Kansas City, started 33 of the 34 games in which he played and posted averages of 8.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Hutchinson. He and the rest of the Blue Dragons managed to lead Hutch to its first NJCAA Division I tournament appearance in 16 years.
Hutchinson finished the season with a 31-4 record and a Region VI title. Also on that team was guard D’Von Campbell, who has since signed on to play at Rutgers for first-year head coach Eddie Jordan.
SIU-Edwardsville head coach Lennox Forrester has added four newcomers this offseason, with three being junior college transfers. Nunn joins fellow JUCO transfers Cameron Craig (6-foot point guard) and Keaton Jackson (6-9 forward), and 6-6 freshman wing Deangelo Stewart.
SIU-E will also have the services of transfers Grant Fiorentinos and Donivine Stewart, who sat out after making moves from Tulane and Bradley respectively. Fiorentinos, a 6-10 forward/center from Cape Town, South Africa, gives the Cougars a much-needed body in the paint while Stewart will factor into the rotation at point guard.
SIU-E finished the 2012-13 season with a record of nine wins and 18 losses, going 5-11 in OVC play. The Cougars lost seven of their last eight games to end the season, just missing out on a spot in the OVC tournament.
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.