Auburn Basketball Retools and Reloads
Bruce Pearl may have just put together the best Tiger roster since Charles Barkley roamed the court at Auburn
For just a moment, things looked very bleak to Auburn basketball. Over the course of a few days, Auburn was looking to field an entire new team when players tested the NBA waters.
Certainly, no one doubts coach Bruce Pearl’s ability to coach up a team. Fans have already seen that happen several times. His first few years didn’t see a significant improvement in the win and loss column, however, it was impossible to ignore that Pearl was dealt a bad hand.
This past season, fans saw what he could do, even without some of his studs on the court. Auburn won an SEC title but melted in tournament play. Auburn just didn’t have the players to compete after Anfernee McLemore went down for good and Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley were ruled ineligible by the NCAA following the Chuck Person investigation.
Things changed as the specifics for the large contract extension for Bruce Pearl emerged. He made good on his end, at least in terms of the offseason, as he turned fan fears into what now looks like Auburn’s best roster in decades.
Sitting out a year is Jamal Johnson, who comes by way of Memphis. The 6′ 4″ combo guard will make Auburn better on the scout team before Tiger fans see if he can build on the 7 points per game he averaged at Memphis. He played with Auburn big man Austin Wiley at Spain Park.
Pearl wasn’t done. He landed one of the top JUCO players in the nation in J’Von McCormick. While Harper is the point man, McCormick will give something to Auburn that it didn’t really have last season—a real threat at the point with Harper on the bench. At Lee College (Texas), McCormick averaged 18.5 points and 6.4 assists per game.
Transfers are great, but one cannot understate what a difference returning players will have on improving Auburn’s chances over last season. Only Mustapha Heron is leaving and not for the NBA. Heron elected to head to St. John’s to finish his career, so he can be near his ailing mother. In his place, former teammate Danjel Purifoy returns. Purifoy was perhaps Auburn’s best all-around player in his lone year on the court for the Tigers. Although Heron did a great job this past season replacing him, Purifoy will only get better with another year.