Barbee Counting On Newcomers At Point Guard

A pair of new players will be guys running the offense for the 2013-14 Auburn basketball team.

Auburn, Ala.--With three of the top four scorers gone along with two of the top three rebounders, Coach Tony Barbee's Auburn basketball team is going to need more production from its returning players and immediate help from newcomers to be successful this coming season.

Chris Denson, who will be a senior shooting guard for the 2013-14 season, is the top returning scorer. He averaged 11.9 points per contest last year, second on the team to Frankie Sullivan's 14.5.

Allen Payne, who will be a senior small forward, is the top returning rebounder at 4.6 per contest. Rob Chubb, a senior center last season, led the Tigers on the boards with 6.6 rebounds per contest. Sullivan was third with 3.9 per game. At 8.8 points per contest, Chubb was the No. 3 scorer followed by Payne at 7.7.

After guard Jerome Seagears backed out on his decision to play for Auburn to return to Rutgers, Barbee's team was in jeopardy of going into the 2013-14 season with just one point guard on its roster, true freshman Tahj Shamsid-Deen. However, the Tigers added a juco player at that position last week when they signed Malcolm Canada.

"We were fortunate to get Malcolm as late as we did in the process," Barbee said. "I think Tahj is going to be a fantastic player for us. He is a talented player. He is really skilled, he is a winner and an ultimate competitor, but obviously you can't compete at the highest level of college basketball with just one point guard

Malcolm Canada

"I think when we were able to get Malcolm, he adds a different dimension," Barbee noted. "Tahj, if you want to classify him as your typical waterbug point guard, smaller, 5-foot-10, 5-foot-11, great speed, great quickness, I think we did a great job of offsetting that with Malcolm, who is a bigger point guard at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds. He is a very physical, has great feet, great hands and is a winner.

"He is a kid that was a third team All-American in junior college so he is really, really talented," the Auburn coach added. "I think we have a great mix in terms of those two. I think we have upgraded that position significantly with Tahj and Malcolm. I think they will both add a lot to the program."

Both Shamsid-Deen and Canada are enrolled in second summer session classes at Auburn.

Last season Josh Wallace was the team's only true point guard. He started 20 times while sharing the duties with fellow 2012-13 senior Sullivan, a two-guard playing out of position when was at the point. Brian  Greene, Jr., who is not returning for his sophomore season, also spent some time at point guard.

Barbee noted that he likes Shamsid-Deen's history of success in a team setting. "He was a three-time state champion and lost in the state final this past year," the coach said. "He is a guy who is a winner--all he knows is winning."

The coach also noted that bringing in forward/guard Dion Wade and center/forward Benas Griciunas from the nation's top-ranked high school team, Findlay Prep, is also a plus.

"They are going to be an added benefit to the veteran guys on this team that have kind of been through the wars and the scars of trying to help me rebuild this program," the coach noted.

Coming off a disappointing 9-23 season the returning Tigers have plenty of scars, including one left by posting just three wins to go with 15 losses in SEC play last year. The Tigers are still looking for their first winning season under Barbee. His first team posted an 11-20 record (4-12 SEC) in 2010-11 followed by a 15-16 mark (5-11 SEC) in 2011-12.

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