Screening of Auburn’s lineup with Johni Broome on board, there’s one purse left

Last season, Bruce Pearl brought in four transfers and a single freshman to top up his roster. This time around, the Tigers could end up inserting a transfer to four freshmen, as Pearl and his team could be building the best recruiting class in program history.

It’s crazy to say, considering the best rookie Auburn has ever signed and possibly the No. 1 draft pick in the NBA, Jabari Smith, was part of last year’s class. But the Tigers have a five-star big man Yohan Traorefour star wing Luck Westry and three-star leader Tre Donaldson signed, with what looks like a solid replacement for Walker Kesler, through the transfer portal. And there’s another scholarship available, as all eyes turn to the five-star striker Julian Phillips. Adding Phillips would give Auburn the No. 5 ranking in the nation.

With Morehead State’s John Broomearguably the best big man transfer on the market, now on board and signed with Auburn, here’s a look at what the Tigers’ 2022-23 lineup could look like – with an open purse spot, which Pearl would rather be used for add Phillips.

1/GUARD POINT

Zep Jasper

Wendell Green Jr.

Tre Donaldson

(Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports)

With off-season practices yet to begin, Pearl doesn’t know what kind of production and impact he’ll get from his freshmen, and even Broome. But in the case of Donaldson, a former dual-sport signing with football who Pearl clarified will only play basketball, he could do much worse than provide respite for Auburn’s top two point guards.

Green Jr. and Jasper both played over 23 minutes last season, with Green Jr. coming off the bench but still playing the third most minutes on the team. Donaldson, a nifty offensive passer and shooter from Tallahassee, Fla., could play 8 to 12 minutes a game to relieve the other two point guards and allow them more practice during their time on the ground. — especially Green Jr., whose forte was shooting like a cannonball from the bench and starting to attack immediately on the offensive end.

Now entering his second season with the program after being traded from Eastern Kentucky, Green Jr. finished third in the SEC in assists per game. His pick-and-roll game with Kessler has been deadly during the meat of the SEC schedule, and he’ll be looking to establish a relatively productive relationship with the Tigers’ newcomers to the frontcourt this year.

Jasper, who opted to return for his sixth college season, will likely be the starter again. One of the best individual defensemen in college basketball last season, the College of Charleston transfer also finished the SEC’s No. 1 season in assist-to-rotation ratio.

2/SHOOTING GUARD

K.D. Johnson

Luck Westry

(Grant Halverson, Getty)

Consistency will be the name of the game for Johnson heading into his junior season. The transfer from Georgia finished second on the team in scoring behind Smith and was capable of offensive explosions, both attacking the basket and beyond the arc. But he also trained in occasional scoring ruts – although his productive days far outweighed those in trouble, as he scored in single digits in just nine of 34 games.

Considering Pearl might not have room to add a 3-point shot to the transfer portal’s roster, Johnson’s improvement in that department would be important for the Tigers offense. He was a 29.0 percent shooter from downtown, good for fifth on the team. Pearl is going to trust his experienced guards to step up this season.

“I wanted to bring in some quality young guards to challenge these guys,” Perl said. “I decided to do this with freshmen rather than transfers because I think those guys who come back deserve to be the senior statesmen. But at the same time, those guys (students from first year) have a chance to push them.

Westry, a 6-foot-6 small forward from Arizona, is no slouch as a rookie either; he is currently the fifth highest rated signer in the program’s history. He brings a lot of athleticism to the table on offense, and he also handled the ball as a point guard at the secondary level.

Fitting into position at Auburn, Westry should find himself with plenty of minutes contributing as a winger at positions 2 and 3. Even if the Tigers land Phillips to play 3, there isn’t depth overload.

3/SMALL FORWARD

Allen Flanigan

Luck Westry

Chris Moore

(Adam Sparks / Inside the Auburn Tigers)

This position obviously carries the biggest asterisk at the moment. Phillips would be one of the most talented rookies in Auburn history, so it would be interesting to see if he overtook veteran Flanigan for the starting role here.

A rising senior who started 20 games with a small forward, Flanigan missed Auburn’s first 11 games of the season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn Achilles.

His offensive efficiency (48.2% from 2-point range and 20.5% from depth) has dropped from his outstanding second campaign, where he was one of the most improved players in the SEC at 14.3 points per game, although he is still one of the Tigers. best ball defenders.

“You have to feel for him,” Pearl said in February. “And I want our fans to feel for him. … You talk about picking up an injury that took you out three and a half months in September and obviously recovering from it – not the same player as a year ago offensively. It can wear you out.

A rising senior from Arkansas, Flanigan entered his name into the NBA draft process last month, though he’s unlikely to keep his name given he’s not a projection. project at the moment. Getting into the draft process is much more common now, given rule changes a few years ago that allow for an easier return to school. Even if a player is not scheduled to be drafted, or even a high-level undrafted free agent, they can still receive league feedback during practices and evaluations to fully understand where their current positions stand. professional prospects and what he needs to improve in the upcoming college season(s).

In 2018, for example, Auburn saw Jared Harper, Bryce Brown, Austin Wiley and Heron Mustapha all dip their toes in the waters of the project. All four returned to school, although Heron chose to transfer.

Moore, who is currently recovering from an offseason procedure on his shin, played 25 games in Auburn’s SEC Championship last season. The 6-foot-6 forward was the No. 10 player in Auburn’s rotation by average minutes per night and scored 1.7 points per game to go with 1.4 rebounds.

4/FORWARD OF POWER

Jaylin Williams

Yohan Traore

(Todd Burandt/Adidas)

Traore’s talent could very well lead to a starting nod at some point, but Williams’ experience – as well as Pearl’s sense at the end of last season that more of the offense Auburn would be focused on Williams in 2022-23 – will be hard to ignore.

But in reality, it doesn’t matter who starts in 4th place. Traore and Williams will both have important roles in this team – as an ultra-athletic ‘combo forward’ and a fundamentally solid two-way player inside, respectively.

Williams played his best basketball late last season, scoring a total of 20 points in Auburn’s two NCAA Tournament games. The former four-star Georgia rookie was praised for his patience and team attitude as he transitioned from a starting role as a sophomore to a backup behind Smith. Williams averaged 5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

Listed at 6-foot-10 by Auburn, Traore’s open-court athleticism is rare, and his ability to attack from both ends of the floor is a big reason he’s become such a coveted prospect.

“He has so many guard skills in his body,” Kyle Weaver, Traore’s trainer at Dream City Christian, told Auburn Undercover last month. “His ability to handle the ball at 6-11, his ability to stretch on defense at 6-11 – he comes off the rebound to push transition. There aren’t many 6-11s that can do that.

5/CENTER

John Broome

Dylan Cardwell

(Auburn Athletics)

How do you replace the nation’s leading shot-blocker and one of the nation’s most effective inside players? The #3 shot blocker and the #5 2-point marker don’t seem like a bad place to start.

Auburn not only landed Broome’s commitment on Saturday, but the 6-foot-10 junior from Tampa, Fla. also signed with the program later in the day.

“He’s got a solid return to the basket game that we’ll take full advantage of,” Pearl said. “What’s also exciting is that he has the ability to cope and keep all five positions on the pitch. He moves well for his height. Coach’s assistant Steven Pearl did an amazing job building trust and rapport with Johni. That played a key role in Johni’s decision.”

Broome, the Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year last season, averaged 16.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game. He finished with 23 double-doubles on the season and shot 55.5% from the floor.

As Pearl mentioned, Broome’s offensive skills as a post player will be different than Auburn’s in recent seasons. Kessler could be a force on the inside, but he was at his best receiving the ball in the optimal places towards the edge. Broome was one of the best in the country at creating his own inside shot.

Cardwell, a rising junior and former four-star rookie, supported Kessler last season and served as a consistent player in the frontcourt. Per 100 possessions, he was Auburn’s second-best rebounder behind Kessler, and he tied for sixth in the SEC in blocks per game (1.3), despite averaging the fewest minutes of any player in the conference top 20 in blocks.

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