During the 2013-14 season, one of the biggest attention-grabbers in college basketball was the Sports Illustrated cover featuring Creighton’s Doug McDermott that was a recreation of the cover that featured Larry Bird back in 1979. While Bird played well enough at Indiana State to eventually have the Missouri Valley Conference name its Player of the Year award in his honor, McDermott won the award in 2013 before the Bluejays made the move to the Big East.
In his lone season in the Big East, McDermott earned Big East Player of the Year honors and every major individual honor he was eligible for nationally.
With his status as the best player in college basketball, the cover spot was certainly deserved. However according to Jay King of Masslive.com, McDermott wasn’t so sure about the idea when first approached. The winner of most of college basketball’s major individual awards discussed this at the NBA’s pre-Draft Combine on Thursday.
“They contacted me about it. And I was like, ‘Are you sure you want to do a remake of the greatest to play?’” he recalled, smiling. “They kind of laughed about it; they thought it’d be really cool. I guess Larry even thought it was pretty sweet too. That was a fun little deal that I’ll have for the rest of my life. He didn’t (contact me) but I just heard from the rumors that he saw it. But I hope to someday meet him and ask him about it. He’s a guy I watch a lot of film on. I’ve read some of his books. So he’s definitely a guy I’ve been following for a while.”
McDermott’s stated on multiple occasions that Bird is a player whose old highlights he studies on a regular basis, but he also noted in the story that he’s felt that those who make comparisons between the two were “crazy” considering what Bird accomplished throughout his basketball career.
McDermott, who’s expected to be a lottery pick in next month’s draft, did have to endure his share of good-natured ribbing from his teammates as well and that’s to be expected.
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.