Steve Hawkins’ Western Michigan Broncos won 12 of 13 games before falling to Syracuse in the NCAA tournament Round of 64, and one of the keys to their run was guard David Brown. One of the best players in the Mid-American Conference, Brown led WMU with an average of 19.1 points to go along with 3.5 rebounds per contest.
With Shayne Whittington out of eligibility, losing Brown would have meant that the Broncos would attempt to return to the NCAA tournament without their top two scorers. Luckily for WMU that won’t be the case, as it was tweeted Thursday evening by David Drew of the Kalamazoo Gazette that Brown will return for his sixth and final season of eligibility.
#WMU officials confirm @WMUMBB guard David Brown will return for a 6th & final season to lead defending #MAC champion Broncos.
Brown played in a total of 19 games in 2010-11 and 2011-12, with an ankle injury ending the first season after nine games and a knee injury being the reason ten games into the 2011-12 campaign. In the two seasons Brown has played since then he’s won the MAC’s Sixth Man of the Year award (2012-13) and was a first team All-MAC selection in 2013-14. Brown was also named MVP of the MAC tournament this past spring.
In addition to Brown the Broncos also welcome back forward Connor Tava, who averaged 11.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in 2013-14. In total four of the team’s top five scorers from last season return to Kalamazoo. And with their go-to option leading the way, Western Michigan will be one of the preseason favorites to win the MAC.
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.