One of the four players to make the decision to leave Rutgers in the aftermath of the Mike Rice controversy was 6-6 guard/forward Mike Poole, who played three seasons at the school prior to Rice being fired.
Ultimately the Rosedale, N.Y. native made the decision to transfer to Iona, with the hope that he would be granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA as opposed to having to sit out the 2013-14 campaign. On Wednesday Iona announced that Poole has received an NCAA Legislative Waiver, which makes him eligible to play immediately.
“I’m really excited to have a student-athlete of Mike’s caliber join us this season,” head coach Tim Cluess said in the release. “His leadership and toughness during summer workouts have been tremendous and he will be an integral part of our program.”
Poole wasn’t much of a scorer during his three seasons at Rutgers, posting averages of 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. But Poole’s value comes in the “little things,” as he’ll provide value to Iona in the areas that tend to be overlooked by many.
The Gaels, who made their second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament last season, have to account for the departure of leading scorer and MAAC Player of the Year Momo Jones (22.6 ppg, 3.4 apg). But five of Iona’s top seven scorers from last season, most notably guard Sean Armand (16.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and forward David Laury III (13.1, 10.3) are back in New Rochelle.
Armand set a school record last season with 112 made three-pointers, and given the pace at which Iona plays (8th nationally in adjusted tempo per kenpom.com) the Gaels should once again rank among the highest scoring teams in the country.
Their competition within the MAAC will look a bit different, as Loyola’s left for the Patriot League and reigning regular season champion Niagara lost a lot of production in the aftermath of Joe Mihalich leaving to take over at Hofstra. Also of note are the additions of Monmouth and Quinnipiac, and Jimmy Patsos (formerly at Loyola) is now running the show at Siena.
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.