Barbee Talks Contract, Recruiting And More

Auburn's Tony Barbee talks about signing his contract, recruiting, roster size, and much more.

Auburn, Ala.--After guiding the Auburn Tigers to an 11-20 record in his first season on the job, much of the talk surrounding men's basketball coach Tony Barbee has been about his contract. Still unsigned as Auburn tries to finish out recruiting on a strong note, Barbee said that he anticipates things will get done very quickly in terms of getting him signed with the Tigers.

"There are no major roadblocks," Barbee said. "I have made it known that I had no interest in negotiating my contract through the season. I wanted my focus to be solely on this team and making sure we were competing at a high level. It wasn't just the season though, it was the season and through our spring recruiting, which should end tomorrow.

"Once that ends I can put my full attention and focus on that. I expect it to be done rather soon. It's in the lawyer's hands right now and I haven't seen the latest version, but from the feedback I've gotten it's very positive. It should be signed and ready for everybody to view here, I would say, in the next 7-10 days."

That's big news for an Auburn program that is energized following the initial season under Barbee in the Auburn Arena. With excitement surrounding the program Barbee has already signed three outstanding players in Willy Kouassi and Bernard Morena from Central Park Christian in Birmingham and guard Cedrick McAfee from Melrose High in Memphis. While none of the three are on campus yet Barbee said he's hopeful all will be able to get in before the summer is complete.

"Obviously the NCAA Eligibility Center works at its own pace," Barbee said. "We're still waiting for the three guys to get through the eligibility center. Willy and Bernard have both graduated. That process should be moving along soon we hope. Cedric doesn't graduate until the end of this week so I doubt he'll be here for the first summer session.

"We fully expect all three of them to be here," he added. "They took care of business this year. They are going to be a big part of the future of this program. I would love for all three of them to be here all summer because all three want to be here, but that's kind of out of our hands."

Even with a roster that is overflowing at the moment the Tigers are still actively recruiting to try to add to the solid class. The biggest name in that group is Huntsville guard Trevor Lacey. Rated a four-star by, Lacey has offers from all over the country but is expected to choose between Auburn, Alabama, Kansas and Kentucky at a ceremony tomorrow at Butler High School. Barbee said despite the numbers they're going to keep trying to get better and better players on the Plains this year and in the future.

"We're still actively recruiting," Barbee said. "We have to upgrade the level of our talent on this roster. We'll continue to pursue players that I think will make us better. On the court basketball is what brings us together, but it's more than that too. They've got to be able to compete successfully in the classroom and in the community to the standards I set for this program."

Currently Auburn has 12 players on scholarship heading into the 2011-12 season including Texas transfer Varez Ward and Clemson transfer Noel Johnson. If all three signees make it in that would mean two current players would no longer have a spot on the roster. If the Tigers were to sign Lacey or anyone else the number would jump to three. Barbee said they haven't made any decisions at the moment, but it's something every school is dealing with as almost 300 players from around the country are listed as transfers for next season.

"No decisions have been made in terms of roster movement at this point," Barbee said. "Obviously there is going to have to be some. There is attrition at programs all over the country and not just ours. I expect there's going to be some movement, but right now we haven't determined who that is going to be."

Saying that Sullivan and Ward both had very good spring practice sessions after injuries hampered them last year, Barbee noted that he's looking for leadership to step forward on this year's team beginning with summer workouts, pick-up games, etc. With a year of getting to know each other under their belts he said both the coaches and team feel like the pieces have been put in place to take a step forward in year two.

"It's on them to continue to work because I think we laid a great foundation this first year for what to expect in terms of how hard my guys play and how they compete," Barbee said. "Obviously that's not good enough. We have to continue to get better individually in terms of skill level. We have to continue to grow physically. We got manhandled in a lot of games. That's where the bar has been raised. The guys have set a great foundation. Now it's up to them to continue through the summer."

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