Arizona’s season came to an end on Saturday night with a heartbreaking, overtime loss to Wisconsin in the Elite 8 in Anaheim. The attention will now shift to freshman forward Aaron Gordon, and whether or not he will declare for the 2014 NBA Draft.
Shortly after the loss, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports tweeted that sources informed him that Gordon would declare for the NBA draft, “barring a stunning change of mind.”
Gordon averaged 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 block per game in what could be his only season in Tucson, though, moments after Saturday night’s loss he didn’t close the door on returning for his sophomore season.
“You know, I’m not sure,” Gordon told reporters on Saturday night. “I have a great foundation so I’m going to talk to a few people and see how that goes and then make an educated decision.”
All season long Gordon has expected to be a one-and-done given that he’s a lock for the lottery, currently projected as the eighth overall pick by DraftExpress.com. Despite shooting 3-of-11 from the field against the Badgers, he hauled in 18 rebounds (six offensive) against Wisconsin on Saturday night. Gordon helped send the game to overtime when he forced Wisconsin guard Traevon Jackson into a contested, step back jump shot.
Gordon might not be the only Wildcat eyeing the upcoming NBA draft. Nick Johnson, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, is listed as an early second round pick according to DraftExpress.com.
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.