Shaq Johnson is one of the best athletes to enter college basketball in recent memory.
He’s also once again looking for a school to play for.
After a largely non-descript freshman campaign for a bad Auburn team, Johnson has been dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules. Johnson started 21 games and averaged 5.3 points and 3.0 boards. According to a report, an arrest for possession of marijuana is the reason for Johnson’s dismissal.
“We hold our student-athletes to a high standard at Auburn University in the way that they conduct themselves off the court,” head coach Tony Barbee said. “I am very disappointed in Shaq’s choices and actions, and they won’t be tolerated. This decision is not one that I take lightly, but it is in the best interest of both the program and the student-athlete.”
When Tony Barbee took over the Auburn program in 2010, it was a mess. While he was able to land a couple of recruits that managed to find themselves ranked in a couple top 100 lists, Barbee hasn’t grown the program at all in three years. He’s 35-59 overall and 12-38 in the SEC coming off of a 9-23 season. And then there’s the whole point-shaving scandal.
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.