Kentucky’s four new McDonald’s All-Americans have arrived on campus as Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyler Ulis all took to social media to announce their arrivals in Lexington, according to Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal.
All four class of 2014 freshmen will begin classes and workouts with the team this summer and it means head coach John Calipari can get his new pieces acclimated a little more quickly for next season’s potential championship run.
As Jones notes in the story, the Harrison twins and James Young didn’t arrive until August of last summer and it might have affected their timing and development slightly in the beginning of the season.
Now, Calipari can get Ulis and Booker adjusted to running with the second team and being valuable backups in the backcourt this season while Lyles and Towns can work with the talented group of Kentucky big men that will be without Willie Cauley-Stein this summer as he recovers from offseason surgery on his ankle.
The freshmen will also get more time with the team before Kentucky’s international exhibition trip in August, which looks like it will be in the Bahamas. The trip will give the freshmen minutes in exhibition games this summer and also allows for additional practice time leading up to the trip.
The narrative won’t be the same surrounding this year’s Kentucky freshmen and all four members of the 2014 class showing up on campus early points to how low key this group of players is off-the-floor compared to the 2013 class.
While the 2013 class was littered with dominant, type-A personalities and ball-dominant players who were always involved in the one-and-done talk, this 2014 group of freshmen shouldn’t have nearly as much hype or difficulty sharing the ball.
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.