When the 2013-14 season commences the Missouri Tigers will begin their tenth season at Mizzou Arena, making the move to the newer confines from the old Hearnes Center. The Tigers enjoyed some great moments at Hearnes, compiling a record of 401-72 in 31 seasons. In recent weeks there have been questions in regards to the future of Hearnes, with current athletic director Mike Alden weighing his available options.
On Wednesday it was announced that the Tigers will play one more game at Hearnes, hosting Oklahoma City University in an exhibition on October 25. The idea for the exhibition came from head coach Frank Haith, who has enjoyed a good relationship with former Missouri head coach Norm Stewart since his arrival in Columbia back in 2011.
Haith pitched the idea to MU’s administration in recent weeks and discussed the idea with Stewart and several players from that team during Stewart’s Coaches vs. Cancer golf tournament at the Lake of the Ozarks earlier this month.
“He’s been awesome to me. He’s been a mentor, a confidante,” said Haith, who serves on the board of directors for Stewart’s charity organization. “When I got the job here, there wasn’t a big parade for Frank Haith. But he reached out, we talked and he really helped me in terms of just being positive about things. I really appreciated that.”
Missouri lost its last game at Hearnes, falling to Kansas 84-82 on March 7, 2004, so the exhibition allows the program an opportunity to leave Hearnes with a win should it be the last time the Tigers play in the building (the whole “can’t leave on a miss” theory, but the Kansas game actually counted in the standings). And the game won’t be the only attraction, as Missouri will use the occasion (and Homecoming weekend) to also honor the 1993-94 Big 8 champion squad.
One of the players on that 1993-94 team was guard Melvin Booker, who won Big 8 Player of the Year as the point guard on a team that ran through conference play undefeated. His son? Devin Booker, one of the best shooters in the 2014 class and Missouri is one of the schools on his list. Devin will take his official visit Missouri the weekend prior.
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.