Shortly after the end of the 2013-14 season three Maryland players made the decision to transfer, with one being sophomore center Shaquille Cleare. Cleare (3.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg as a Terrapin) played an average of 12.8 minutes per game in his two seasons in College Park, but the development many expected to see when he arrived on campus simply didn’t happen.
While Cleare is a native of the Bahamas he attended high school in Texas so there is some familiarity between player and school (Texas also recruited Cleare while he was in high school). Cleare will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2014-15 season, and that year spent practicing against the likes of Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh could prove beneficial.
Texas head coach Rick Barnes also has rising senior Jonathan Holmes and rising sophomore Connor Lammert in his front court, and outside of Holmes this group will have eligibility remaining when Cleare becomes eligible for game action in 2015. There’s also the question of where five-star 2014 center Myles Turner will attend college, with the Texan scheduled to announce his decision April 30.
Texas is one of the schools remaining on Turner’s list, with Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, SMU and Texas A&M being the others. With Cleare not being eligible for game action and Texas still having an unfilled scholarship for the 2014-15 season, it’s tough to see Cleare’s commitment having a major impact on Turner’s decision.
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.