One day after it was announced that Western Illinois head coach Jim Molinari was stepping down, Nebraska has officially hired him as an assistant on Tim Miles’ staff. Molinari, who has won 300 games as a head coach, fills the position left vacant by Craig Smith. Smith is now the head coach at South Dakota.
“Today is a great day for Husker Hoops,” Miles said in the release announcing the move. “Adding Coach Molinari to our staff can help elevate us to the next level. He’s a great coach and a better person. We are very fortunate he’s joining us. He brings a wealth of coaching and recruiting experience. He’s coached in the Final Four as an assistant.
“He’s taken his own team to the NCAA Tournament at two different universities, and he’s recruited NBA players. Jim has had every conceivable experience a coach can have, and he will have a major impact on our program.”
This past season Nebraska made its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1998, falling to Baylor in the Round of 64. With most of the key contributors from that team due back on campus next season, led by All-Big Ten selection Terran Petteway, Nebraska will be expected to make a return trip to the Big Dance in 2014-15.
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.