For some players the process of going through the NCAA’s Eligibility Center can be more nerve-wracking than anticipated. Three things can happen: a player can be cleared, meaning that they can proceed with preparations for the upcoming season without any concern.
But there’s also the possibility of being declared either a partial (you can receive a scholarship and practice with the team, but no games) or non-qualifier (ineligible to receive a scholarship), leading to some sleepless nights. But on Wednesday two USF newcomers received the good news, as junior guard Corey Allen and freshman center John Egbunu have been cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times the two newcomers, who are expected to be contributors for head coach Stan Heath as the Bulls begin play in the American Athletic Conference, will begin classes next week.
One year after nearly reaching the Sweet 16 USF struggled mightily in 2012-13, finishing the season with a 12-19 record and falling to Seton Hall in the first round of the Big East tournament by the final score of 46-42. While the Pirates weren’t stellar offensively on that night either (the game went to overtime), the tournament loss was a fitting one for USF given how much they struggled offensively.
USF finished the season at or near the bottom of the Big East of just about every major statistical category when it came to their offense, shooting 38.9% from the field (last) and scoring 58.8 points per game (also last). USF did manage to finish 11th in the conference in three-point percentage (31.3%), and in scoring more than 31% of their points from beyond the arc the Bulls ranked second in that particular category.
They needed to get junior guard Anthony Collins (8.6 ppg, 6.5 apg) and senior wing Victor Rudd (12.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg) some help, and the hope is that USF’s six newcomers (the class was ranked in the Top 25 by multiple scouting services) can add some scoring punch to a program that lacked it a season ago.
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.