After sitting out the 2012-13 season as a result of his transfer in from Virginia, Auburn guard K.T. Harrell hit the ground running offensively. With his 8.0 points per game as a freshman being the most productive of Harrell’s two seasons in Charlottesville, the 6-foot-4 guard scored 18.3 points per game in 2013-14. Harrell shot 43.4% from the field and 36.3% from beyond the arc last season, proving to be a solid scoring option alongside leading scorer Chris Denson.
Now that Denson’s out of eligibility there’s a void to be filled in the first season of the Bruce Pearl era. And while the addition of Niagara transfer Antoine Mason will certainly help from an offensive standpoint, as he averaged 25.6 points per game last season, it’s been Harrell who has stepped forward this summer.
Pearl discussed the development of Harrell during an appearance Thursday morning, praising both Harrell’s skill level and work ethic according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
Pearl called Montgomery native K.T. Harrell, who averaged 18.3 points for the Tigers last season, the team’s “best player and he’s our hardest worker,” during an appearance at the Public Safety Insurance Fund’s banquet at the RSA Activity Center Thursday morning.
“When your most valuable officer or person is also your hardest worker or your most dedicated, you’ve got a good team,” Pearl said to the audience of predominantly law enforcement officials. “K.T. leads by example both on and off the floor.”
Auburn certainly had its issues last season, as evidenced by their 14-16 overall record (6-12 SEC) which led to the dismissal of Tony Barbee. But there’s optimism, thanks to the arrival of Pearl and the addition of some talented newcomers. But Auburn’s fate will in large part be determined by the production of its leading returnee, with Harrell’s scoring and leadership abilities being key factors in 2014-15.
And by the sounds of it, Harrell has embraced his role under the new head coach.
With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.