In recent years athletes who’ve enjoyed success on the basketball court have made the transition to the National Football League, with the tight end position being home to three of the game’s best. Tony Gonzalez (Cal) and Antonio Gates (Kent State) will wind up in Canton when they decide to hang up the cleats, and Jimmy Graham (Miami) has established himself as one of the best tight ends in pro football.
However despite the success of those three, making the move with limited (or no) high-level football experience is a tough process. Such was the case for Demetrius Harris, who after playing four seasons of college basketball (two Mineral Area CC and two at Milwaukee) was invited to work out for the Kansas City Chiefs in early April.
Chiefs G.M. John Dorsey saw the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Harris play basketball at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and thought he had the perfect athletic makeup to be an NFL tight end, and so after Harris finished his college basketball season, the Chiefs signed Harris as an undrafted free agent. Harris didn’t play college football at all, so he has a lot of learning to do, but the Chiefs like his long-term potential.
Harris played football in high school, earning all-state honors in Arkansas as a senior, and he had a scholarship offer to play the sport at Arkansas State before low test scores nixed that possibility. After spending four years away from the game, having the chance to work with the Chiefs coaching staff will be a positive for Harris.
Will Harris eventually become a player capable of contributing not just during the week but on Sundays? We shall see.
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.