Joining Saint Louis this season are guards Davell Roby, Marcus Bartley and Miles Reynolds, wing Malik Yarbrough, forward Brett Jolly and center Austin Gillman.
While every program initiates freshmen by putting them in the weight room and helping them learn terminology, senior members of the team are also helping cook for the team’s freshmen and teaching them about proper nutrition:
The freshmen are by no means alone in knowing they will be counted on. The team’s veterans also know it, which is why, for instance, senior Grandy Glaze has taken to cooking for his new teammates, trying to turn them on to the beauties of grilled chicken over fried chicken, of brown rice over white rice.
“They’re puppies,” Glaze said. “You have to feed your puppies.”
The puppies quote is one of the better quotes I’ve seen in quite some time, but Glaze is right. As Timmerman notes, no Saint Louis freshman has played over 180 minutes in a season in the last three years, so this will be a bit of a change for the Billikens with almost half of the roster entering as wide-eyed newcomers.
Expectations probably aren’t as high for Saint Louis as the past few seasons, but the year will be made much easier if some of the freshmen can start helping right away.
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.