The 2014 season was one filled with turmoil for Butler, and at the outset, the offseason appeared just as fraught. Rene Castro transferred during the year, and was followed by Nolan Berry and Devontae Morgan, but coach Brandon Miller’s summer recruiting duties just became a bit lighter: Tyler Lewis, a sophomore guard from North Carolina State, has decided to transfer to Butler.
Lewis is the first former McDonald’s All-America to suit up for Butler, and while he will have to sit out next season, his addition ticks off an immediate need for the Bulldogs — point guard.
Alex Barlow has one year of eligibility remaining, and while Kellen Dunham can run point, the guard is most ideally suited off the ball, a move that is guaranteed with Lewis in the fold. There was a thought that Lewis and Cat Barber, a freshman at NC State, would co-exist in the same backcourt, but it was clear towards the end of the 2014 season that Barber would run the team going forward, so despite Lewis’ 42.9 percent assist rate (which ranked within Ken Pomeroy’s top 50), the sophomore needed to find another program with minutes at the one.
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.