Just three days after announcing that freshman wing Troy Williams would be sidelined due to an injured right hand, Indiana announced on Thursday that fellow freshman Luke Fischer would be out for a “few weeks” after spraining his left shoulder in a scrimmage. Fischer, who earned Mr. Basketball and Gatorade state Player of the Year honors in Wisconsin last year, is a 6-11 big man expected to factor into the Hoosiers’ accounting for the departure of Cody Zeller.
“Luke has made great strides and was playing with great confidence,” Crean said in a statement according to the Indianapolis Star. “He was being aggressive in his pursuit for the basketball when it happened.”
Of course there are other personnel losses for the Hoosiers to address as they look to repeat as Big Ten regular season champions, including Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls. But the center position is the spot where the Hoosiers are least experienced. Zeller finished the 2012-13 season with a possession percentage of 26.6%, and his offensive rating of 119.4 ranked second in the Big Ten behind Michigan’s Trey Burke (per kenpom.com).
Can Fischer and/or sophomore Peter Jurkin give Indiana a formidable option at center? Even with the return of Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey and the addition of a talented recruiting class headlined by 6-10 forward Noah Vonleh, Indiana will need their two young centers to hold their own inside if they’re to build on last season’s success.
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.