Wednesday afternoon new Marist head coach Mike Maker moved one step closer to filling out his coaching staff, as an addition and a retention were announced by the program. The retention is Paul Lee, who has been a member of the Marist coaching staff for the last six seasons, with former Keflavik Basketball Club (Iceland) head coach Andy Johnston being the addition.
Johnston, who served as the head coach of four different teams at Keflavik (men’s, women’s and the under-21 teams for both the men and women), also has coaching experience at the Division I level. He spent five years at St. Francis-Brooklyn (2008-13), helping the program earn a fourth place finish in the NEC in 2011-12.
“We are thrilled to welcome Andy to the Marist men’s basketball family,” Maker said in the release. “His wealth of experience as both a head and assistant coach adds tremendous value to our staff and program.”
Marist finished the 2013-14 season with a 12-19 overall record, but their 9-11 mark in MAAC play represented a three-win improvement on their 2012-13 league record (6-12). Marist will have to account for the graduation of center Adam Kemp and guard/forward Jay Bowie, but they return rising senior guard/forward Chavaughn Lewis (17.5 ppg, 5.0 ppg, 2.8 apg) and rising redshirt sophomore guard Khalid Hart (14.7, 3.0, 2.5).
Maker will also add five newcomers to the program, including guard James Griffin and forward Obi Momah.
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.