With four seniors at the guard position entering the 2013-14 campaign, the Memphis Tigers will have some holes to fill with their 2014 recruiting class. Junior college prospects can help in this regard, as they possess more game experience than the standard recruit and therefore could be better equipped to help a program immediately.
On Saturday Josh Pastner’s program received a verbal commitment from a third junior college prospect, as 6-foot-3 guard Avery Woodson made his pledge to the American Athletic Conference school. Woodson, who redshirted at Southeast Louisiana last season before making the move to East Mississippi CC, is a native of Waynesboro, Miss. who was also considering Boise State, Murray State and Southern Miss.
“Coach (Josh) Pastner says I’m a player,” Woodson told John Martin of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal a couple days before making his decision. “He said I’ll be able to play anywhere with the rest of the guards and that he wouldn’t just stick me in the corner to shoot.”
Woodson joins forwards Trahson Burrell and Chris Hawkins as junior college players who have committed to Memphis for next season, with guard Dominic Magee being the fourth verbal commitment in the 2014 recruiting class. Memphis loses Missouri transfer Michael Dixon Jr., Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson and Geron Johnson at the guard spots at the conclusion of the 2013-14 campaign.
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.