Ahmad Starks will have to wait until the 2014-2015 season to wrap up his collegiate career.
The 5-foot-9 Chicagoan played his first three seasons at Oregon State before decided to transfer to Illinois to be close to his ailing grandmother. On Tuesday night, his hardship waiver was denied by the NCAA.
“Following a lengthy process, we have received final word from the NCAA on Ahmad’s status. We are all disappointed with the decision to deny the waiver and especially feel bad for Ahmad and his family,” Illinois head coach John Groce said in a statement. “Ahmad had a compelling case, returning to his home state to be closer to an ailing grandmother who played an instrumental role in raising him. However, we now have to move forward. Ahmad will focus on preparing our team in practice while also making individual improvement, fueled by the goal of returning to the court in 2014-15.”
The Illinois backcourt is looking to replace the production of leading scorers Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson. The Illini backcourt this season consists of returners Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand while adding transfer Rayvonte Rice and incoming freshmen Kendrick Nunn, Jaylon Tate and Malcolm Hill.
Starks averaged 10.4 points, 2.3 assists, 2.0 boards and 1.0 steals per game this past season for Oregon State. He joins a promising 2014 class that includes four-star point guard Quentin Snider and four-star power forward Leron Black, as well as three-star big man Michael Finke. He also be eligible the same year as Seton Hall transfer Aaron Cosby, who will have two years left to play.
Starks will have one year of eligibility remaining.
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.