UConn freshman center Amida Brimah may not have put up sparkling numbers during the Huskies’ march to the national title, but if not for his three-point play in the final minute of regulation against Saint Joseph’s there would have been nets to cut down. Brimah arrived on campus a bit raw but there were flashes in 2013-14, most notably his 20-point, eight-rebound, five-block performance in a win over UCF in January.
An offseason to further hone his skills would certainly benefit Brimah, who will be asked to do more as a sophomore. But the amount of time Brimah will have to work on his game may be limited, as it was reported by Dave Borges of the New Haven Register Wednesday that the center will need to undergo surgery on his left shoulder.
It’s good for Brimah and UConn that this is something that will be handled during the offseason. But how much basketball skill work will Brimah be able to do following his recovery? The answer to that question will impact just how much better Brimah is when the season begins.
In the front court UConn will return all of its key contributors next season, with DeAndre Daniels (NBA?) and Philip Nolan both having eligibility remaining. And there’s also rising sophomore Kentan Facey, who couldn’t crack the rotation after finally being cleared by the NCAA. UConn will also add Rakeem Lubin, a 6-foot-8 forward.
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.