Needing to replace the departed Tim O’Toole, who accepted an assistant coaching spot on Johnny Dawkins’ staff at Stanford, Syracuse is bringing back a familiar face to serve as the program’s director of basketball operations.
On Friday the school announced the hiring of Kip Wellman, who was a graduate assistant at the school from 2005 to 2009. Wellman, who spent last season away from college basketball, spent time at Western Kentucky as that program’s director of player development before being promoted to assistant coach in 2010.
Wellman’s responsibilities at Syracuse will include coordinating the team’s travel plans, coordinating recruiting visits and assisting in the running of the program’s summer basketball camps. During his time as a grad assistant at Syracuse, one of Wellman’s responsibilities was the running of the program’s Elite Camp.
Those camps have grown in importance in recent years, as they allow schools to invite some of their most important recruiting targets while also giving the campers a first-hand look at the facilities (and also the experience of working with the men who could end up being their coaches in college).
The Orange will begin practice in preparation for their summer trip to Canada on August 15, with the traveling party scheduled to leave for Montreal on August 20. Syracuse, which has to account for the departure of key contributors Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Triche and James Southerland, will play four games on the trip (two in Montreal, followed by two in Ottawa) before returning on August 25.
Syracuse won’t lack for returning experience (or talent) however, as senior forward C.J. Fair leads a group that will look to return to the Final Four after falling to Michigan in the national semifinals.
The Orange also add one of the nation’s best recruiting classes, with point guard Tyler Ennis being the most important piece of the puzzle due to the departures of Carter-Williams and Triche.
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.