In the midst of preparing his team for its NCAA tournament game against Tennessee, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery had a far more important situation to attend to. With his 13-year old son Patrick found to have a tumor (which was later found to be malignant) on his thyroid, McCaffery spent the morning of Wednesday, March 19 at his son’s side before traveling to Dayton for the Hawkeyes’ game against Tennessee that night in Dayton.
The game was a tight one, with the Volunteers winning 78-65 in overtime after a Roy Devyn Marble shot sent the game to the extra session. But instead of being boisterous in celebrating their advancement into the field of 64, each Tennessee player and coach made sure to let McCaffery know that they were thinking of he, Patrick and the rest of their family.
Those postgame actions were praised by many, and on Thursday the Southeastern Conference announced that the Volunteers were one of the conference’s Sportsmanship Award winners. Joining Tennessee were the University of Georgia equestrian team, the University of Missouri football team and the league’s women’s golf coaches.
“Sportsmanship, civility and social responsibility are marks of character that last a lifetime,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in the release. “We are proud of these teams from Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia and the women’s golf coaches of the SEC for setting an example for us all.”
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.