With assistant Mike Rhoades accepting the head coaching position at Rice, VCU head coach Shaka Smart had a vacancy to fill on his coaching staff. Wednesday afternoon it was announced by the school that David Cason, who for the last three seasons was a member of the Vanderbilt coaching staff, had been hired to fill the vacancy.
“I’m really excited the opportunity to join the VCU basketball program. What Coach Smart, his staff and the players have done over the past five years is nothing short of remarkable,” Cason said in the release. “I’m looking forward to rejoining a longtime friend in Jeremy Ballard and continuing to build my relationships with the rest of the coaching staff and the players. My family and I can’t wait to be a part of the VCU and Richmond communities.”
Cason joins Jeremy Ballard and Mike Morrell on Smart’s coaching staff, one that has seen an assistant leave for a head coaching job in each of the last four off-seasons. So in that regard it seems pretty clear that Smart’s assistants have gone on run programs of their own, a goal for any coach working his way up the ranks.
VCU’s made four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances under Smart, and the Rams have won at least one game in three of those trips with this year being the exception. The Rams will have to account for the graduation of guard Rob Brandenburg and center Juvonte Reddic, but most of their rotation from last season (including guard Briante Weber and wing Treveon Graham) will be back 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.