Before accepting a massive, seven-year contract extension with Kentucky last week worth $52 million, head coach John Calipari had extended talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers about taking over as president and head coach of the organization.
It’s not all that surprising that Cal would consider a move to Cleveland. Let’s start with the basics: the Cavs have one of the most talented players in the NBA in Kyrie Irving and also just so happen to hold the rights to the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Irving and one of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid or Jabari Parker would be enough to entice just about any coach to consider a move, and that’s before you consider that a return to the NBA is something that Cal has always seemed to be pining for.
And remember last month, when that random interview with a Cleveland newspaper resulted in headlines across the internet about how much Cal would like to coach LeBron James? You don’t think visions of coaching the best player on the planet in his return to his hometown danced through Cal’s head?
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.
Cal signed a seven-year deal with the Wildcats, and, at the very least, used the interest he was getting from Cleveland as leverage to become the second-highest paid coach in the collegiate ranks. And if he’s not leaving for a job that gives him young and talented platers, full control and a massive salary, what job would he realistically leave for at the next level?
Kentucky will enter next season as the No. 1 team in the country, as they only lost Julius Randle and James Young from a team that made the national title game.
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.