With the start of the regular season inching closer the Georgetown Hoyas had a significant question that needed answering: when would UCLA transfer Joshua Smith be eligible to play in games? Smith transferred to the Big East school in January after playing six games for the Bruins last season, and it was unknown how long he’d have to sit out.
“We are excited that the NCAA has approved the waiver for Joshua,” Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said in the release. “Now, he has to maintain a high level of commitment on and off the court. He will provide a significant low-post presence for this team.”
In two-plus seasons as a Bruin Smith, who was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, posted averages of 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. But due to weight (and the subsequent stamina) issues the Kent, Wash. native played an average of just 19 minutes per contest.
In a a story written by Andy Katz of ESPN.com back in August it was reported that Smith had lost around 40 pounds since arriving at Georgetown, down to 310 pounds after playing at 350 while at UCLA. If he’s continued on that path of eating properly and working hard in the weight room, Smith has the talent needed to be a valuable piece for the Hoyas as the look to win the Big East.
But that was something said throughout Smith’s time in Westwood, with the changes necessary for him to be the best player possible never taking place. It’s all a matter of commitment for Smith, and if it remains present both he and Georgetown stand to benefit.
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.