Creighton got some great news on Tuesday afternoon as the NCAA officially ruled that Grant Gibbs would be given a sixth-year of eligibility.
Gibbs averaged 8.5 points, 5.8 assists and 4.1 boards for the Bluejays last season, the second straight year that he led the Missouri Valley in assists. Creighton is 57-14 with Gibbs in the starting lineup the past two seasons, as he plays a major role in facilitating Gregg McDermott’s offensive from the wing. Gibbs’ is a good decision-maker running the pick-and-roll, creating opportunities for easy looks for his all-american teammate Doug McDermott.
The 6-foot-5 Gibbs began his career at Gonzaga, where he redshirted as a freshman because of a shoulder injury that would have kept him out for the season. He transferred to Creighton after playing as a redshirt freshman with the Zags, and while he sat out his one season as a transfer, Gibbs was also recovering from a knee injury.
Creighton returns four starters from last year’s team that won dual-MVC titles, but they lose a key role player in center Greg Echenique to graduation. Losing Gibbs as well would have been a major blow, but with him back in the fold, the Jays look like the early favorite to win the 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.