Guard Zay Jackson was a player many expected to eventually help the Murray State basketball program account for the graduation of prolific point guard Isaiah Canaan. After playing 18.4 minutes per game as a freshman, the 2012-13 season was supposed to represent one more season of playing alongside Canaan while having a larger role in Steve Prohm’s system.
But then the September 2012 incident, in which Jackson hit two bystanders with his car in a Walmart parking lot, occurred. For the crime Jackson would spend 49 days in jail, with Murray State making the decision to reinstate him during the offseason. That new beginning turned into a nightmare for Jackson however, as he suffered a torn ACL and LCL in early October that ruled him out for the entire 2013-14 season.
“I want to thank Coach Prohm for giving me an opportunity to play basketball at Murray State, and for his support during my time as a Racer,” Jackson said. “With my injury causing me to miss a second season now, I just believe a fresh start would be good for me.”
Prior to the knee injury Jackson was expected to be the Racers’ best player this season, and even after his season came to an end there was the belief that Jackson would be able to help his teammates from the sidelines. But apparently it all proved to be too much for Jackson, resulting in his decision to transfer in hopes of getting a fresh start.
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.