In three seasons as a Florida Gator, forward Will Yeguete has averaged 3.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Those meager numbers may lead to outsiders undervaluing his impact on the Gators, especially when it comes to his impact on the defensive end.
His latest surgery is called an arthroscopic debridement on his right knee and requires four months of rehab. Yeguete’s knee is a big deal because he can do the little things that go unnoticed but make the difference in Elite Eight games — like being the middle guy in the pressure defense and causing clutch turnovers, like limiting teams to one shot with his rebounding in games where a basket can mean a win.
Florida won’t necessarily lack for depth inside this winter, with fellow senior Patric Young also returning to school and two talented transfers in Dorian Finney-Smith (from Virginia Tech) and Damontre Harris (South Carolina) joining the ranks.
There’s also the potential addition of freshman phenom Chris Walker, who is still a question mark academically but has the talent to make an immediate impact if he gets the job done in the classroom. Billy Donovan having players of this caliber at his disposal could result in some people taking Yeguete’s contributions for granted, but that would be a mistake.
According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers Yeguete led the team in both defensive rebounding percentage (21.9%) and steal percentage (3.5%) last season, leading the way for a team that ranked third nationally in defensive efficiency.
Florida’s reached the Elite 8 three consecutive seasons, and with the amount of talent on campus there’s hope that Donovan’s bunch will be able to take the next step in 2013-14. And if Will Yeguete is healthy, Florida is more than capable of accomplishing that goal.
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.