New Delaware State head coach Keith Walker, whose interim tag removed in mid-April, has filled out his coaching staff with three hires being made official by the school on Thursday. Joining Walker at the MEAC school are assistants Keith Johnson, Kevin Washington and Alex Stone, with Johnson serving as the program’s assistant head coach.
“I’ve known Keith Johnson for more than 25 years, and have a great deal of admiration for his knowledge of the game,” Walker said in the release. “He has been mentored by two of the greatest coaches of our time in Hall-of-Famer John Chaney of Temple and “Fang” Mitchell at Coppin State. Keith’s knowledge of the MEAC, along with his recruiting ties in the Delaware Valley and Mid-Atlantic regions, will greatly benefit our program.”
Johnson spent the last 13 years at Coppin State, and the hiring of Washington is another move that catches the eye. Prior to moving up to the Division I ranks Washington was the head coach at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina, and two of the players he coached during his time there are John Wall and T.J. Warren.
While getting players of that caliber to the MEAC school would be a stretch, maybe connections forged there can help the Hornets on the recruiting trail as they look to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.
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.