When Louisville junior forward Chane Behanan was suspended indefinitely last month, many wondered just how long Behanan would be away from the program. Head coach Rick Pitino originally stated that a return didn’t look “probable” but the stance has softened some recently.
Behanan will participate in the pregame ceremony honoring last season’s national champion squad tomorrow afternoon, and on Friday it was reported that the Cincinnati native has been allowed to return to practice. And in announcing the decision, Pitino noted the progress that Behanan’s shown since the suspension was announced.
“We said he had to go 30 days straight with no mess-ups before he could practice and he’s done that,” he said. “I didn’t think he could do the right thing for 30 days in a row — getting up, coming over here at 6:45 in the morning, meeting curfew at night, getting through tutoring all day. I was a doubting Thomas, to say the least, but he’s done all the right things.”
Behanan’s status is a key question that the Cardinals need to answer as they look to become the first repeat national champion since Florida pulled off the feat in 2006 and 2007. Montrezl Harrell is a player many expect to enjoy a breakout sophomore campaign, and senior Stephen Van Treese gives Louisville valuable experience, but the Cardinals don’t have a great amount of depth inside.
If Behanan can continue to take care of business off the court, his return will certainly help Louisville in this regard. How much longer will Behanan have to wait before he can return to game action remains to be seen, but with today’s development Behanan seems to be closer to doing so.
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.