During Providence’s late-season run that featured a Big East tournament title, sophomore guard Josh Fortune became a player more comfortable in his role and was a more assertive offensive player as a result. After reaching double figures in just six of Providence’s first 22 games, the Hampton, Va. native scored ten points or more in nine of the Friars’ final 13 games.
With Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts both out of eligibility, this offseason looked to be an important one for Fortune with the hope being that he could develop into a more consistent offensive option.
However it will be important for other reasons, as it was reported by Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal that Fortune has decided to transfer in hopes of playing at a school closer to his home. Given the aforementioned personnel losses, this isn’t good news for Ed Cooley and his staff. Fortune averaged 8.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore, shooting 41.4% from the field and 35.0% from beyond the arc.
Providence was in search of additional depth on the perimeter prior to Fortune’s decision to transfer, so obviously there’s even more work to be done. One recruit the Friars are in the running for is former Washington State commit Tramaine Isabell, who announced via his Twitter account that he’s down to Providence and Missouri.
Providence does return some perimeter talent, with Kris Dunn expected back after missing most of the 2013-14 season due to a shoulder injury and Tyler Harris and LaDontae Henton both being options on the wing. Providence also adds point guard Kyron Cartwright and small forward Jalen Lindsey to the program this summer (along with power forward Ben Bentil and center Paschal Chukwu), and based upon the loss of Fortune the hope for Providence fans is that the staff isn’t done making additions.
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.