You’ll never find a college basketball player who relishes the thought of spending a season on the bench. Injuries and coaches decisions will often put a young player out of commission for a season, however. It’s up to the redshirtee to get the most he can out of the experience.
Creighton’s redshirt freshman Isaiah Zierden, a 6-2 guard from Minnesota, is “biting the bit,” as he told the Omaha World-Herald, to get on the floor after sitting out his first season as a Blue Jay.
Zierden does acknowledge the wisdom shown by head coach Greg McDermott in sitting him for a year, however.
Zierden said the redshirt season allowed him to adjust to the speed of the college game.
“The game just slowed down,” he said. “Last year, during summer workouts and during training camp, it seemed like everything was just going a million miles per hour. Things have just slowed down.
“I have time to read the pick-and-rolls and that kind of stuff. That’s the biggest thing.”
The other important benefit, and it will be crucial as the Bluejays move into the Big East, is the time Zierden spent improving his strength. The redshirt freshman admitted that he looked like “a twig” at the beginning of last season. Strength and conditioning coach Dan Bailey showed Zierden a photo taken last season and the player barely recognized himself.
Intelligent use of reshirt seasons is one of the hidden tasks a top-notch college coach must tackle. Sounds like McDermott thought ahead when it came to preparing his team for the big realignment move.
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.