It all started with Florida-Gulf Coast, who rode the #DunkCity wave to the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed with upsets of Georgetown and San Diego State. The attention that the program derived from that postseason run and the enthralling style that head coach Andy Enfield had his team play resulted in him getting hired by USC to take over the program when Kevin O’Neill was fired.
With quite a bit of talent returning and a palpable buzz around a program at a school on the beach in Florida, FGCU was an enticing job. Kansas assistant coach Joe Dooley won the #DunkCity sweepstakes and was hired to take over the program. Bill Self needed to fill the void that Dooley left on his staff, so he hired Jerrance Howard, then an assistant at SMU and a former player under Self at Illinois.
With an opening on his staff, Larry Brown tapped into the coaching staff of a team that reached the Final Four, hiring away KT Turner from Wichita State. That hiring opened up a spot for Forbes to be hired by Gregg Marshall.
If Forbes is going to send anyone a thank you note for his hiring, it should probably be Brett Comer, Sherwood Brown and the rest of FGCU’s roster.
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.