Kudos to Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon for finding a way to get Shaquille Cleare home to his native Bahamas this summer. The Terps will begin a week-long exhibition swing through the islands on Monday. Sadly for Cleare, he won’t be able to suit up and actually play in front of his family.
It’s especially unfortunate because Cleare has lost a fair amount of weight this summer. He went from 280 lbs., his playing weight at the end of last season, to around 257 today. In fact, his hard work in slimming down may have contributed to his current injury status, according to the Washington Post.
[D]uring a summer workout, Cleare strained a hamstring. The pain carried into his back. He’s been hurt almost a month now, only recently progressing to half-speed participation during practice. The weight has stayed off, but rushing Cleare back for exhibitions – even in his native country – doesn’t make sense.
Cleare will still fly out with the team, and stay home with his parents after everyone else flies back on Friday. So the trip won’t be a total loss.
The 6’9″ Cleare averaged just 3.7 points and 2.7 boards per contest last season, playing in the considerable shadow of Alex Len, so Terps fans are probably pretty bummed they won’t get to see what Cleare can do, even against the limited competition in an exhibition game. With Len off as the number five pick in the NBA draft, and Maryland moving to the Big Ten, the Terps have a lot riding on Cleare’s ability to recover and play up to his potential in the upcoming season.
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.