One of the most closely followed story lines in the Class of 2016 is whether or not any of the top players will reclassify into 2015.
One of those players is Josh Jackson, the No. 1 player in the class, according to Rivals. There have been rumors swirling that he will eventually end up finishing his final year in high school next season as he is already transferring from Detroit to California, but those rumors were shot down by his mother last week in Georgia.
The other elite recruit that has had rumors of his grade change bounce around the grassroots circuit is Thon Maker. Maker is a 7-foot-1 native of Sudan by way of Australia who plays his high school ball in southern Virginia. He ability to block shots combined with his touch from the three-point line has gotten him recruited by the likes of Kentucky, Duke and, well, everyone that’s any good.
But it appears that Maker is going to end up playing two more years at the high school level, meaning that he will not be reclassifying out of 2016.
“It’s tough,” Ed Smith, Maker’s guardian, told AllHoosiers.com. “It’s tougher than we thought because of the amount of work you have to do. If we had had the summer to take some summer classes … but the summer has been so hectic. It’s probably not very likely. There’s no rush. You want to make sure your body’s ready and you’re also ready academically and socially.”
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.