With Dai-Jon Parker being their lone upperclassman in the backcourt, Vanderbilt is going to be young on the perimeter in 2014-15. That’s been known for quite some time, yet what has also been known is the fact that head coach Kevin Stallings needed depth especially at the point guard position.
Vanderbilt filled a need on Friday, as Oak Hill Academy point guard Shelton Mitchell announced that he’s committed to the SEC school. Mitchell, a four-star prospect in the 2014 class, was originally a Wake Forest signee and chose the Commodores over Missouri.
In the last week Mitchell took official visits to both schools, and he also held an offer from California.
According to Chris Smith of 247Sports, academics and the visit to campus impacted Mitchell’s decision to commit to Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt now has six players joining the program this summer as a result of Mitchell’s commitment, with one of those players being a transfer in Nolan Cressler (Cornell) who won’t be able to play in 2014-15.
Mitchell’s joined in the freshman class by fellow guards Wade Baldwin IV, Riley LaChance, Matthew Fisher-Davis and wing Jeff Roberson. Guard Kyle Fuller and forward Rod Odom, two of Vanderbilt’s top three scorers last season, are out of eligibility but the Commodores return a promising big man in Damian Jones in addition to Parker and senior forward James Siakam.
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.