On Tuesday morning, LSU head coach Johnny Jones announced that Anthony Hickey, Malik Morgan and Shane Hammink will be leaving the Tiger program.
“These three players will not be a part of the LSU program next season,” said Coach Jones. “We thank them for the contributions they made to the LSU Basketball team and certainly wish them well in their future plans.”
Hickey was the best of the three, as he was a three-year starter at the point guard spot. As a junior this past season, the Kentucky-native averaged 8.4 points and 3.7 assists while leading the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio. Those numbers were down from his sophomore season, when Hickey averaged 11.2 points, 3.8 assists and 2.9 steals.
Morgan was a 6-foot-4 wing that was a top 100 recruit coming out of high school. He started 20 games in two seasons at LSU, averaging 4.6 points and 3.1 boards as a sophomore. Hammink was a bit player that only played in 21 games last season.
The Tigers are going to have a huge front line next season, but losing Hickey means that Jones is going to have to rely that much more on JuCo transfer Josh Gray.
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.