Point Guard Play Already Pleasing Barbee

Point guard newcomers Tahj Shamsid-Deen and Malcolm Canada have both made an instant impact with the Auburn Tigers as they prepare to head to The Bahamas in early August.

Auburn, Ala.—While there's no question that shooting the basketball and rebounding were problem areas for the Auburn Tigers last season, perhaps the biggest issue was a lack of consistency at the point guard position.

Without a true point guard returning on the roster, Coach Tony Barbee and his staff brought in two players in the 2013 class and the early results have been nothing but positive on junior college transfer Malcolm Canada and high school standout Tahj Shamsid-Deen.

"They have been the highlight of the summer so far," Barbee says. "They're not the biggest surprise because we recruited them for a reason--they're really good players. These early practices as we prepare for The Bahamas. There is no question the two point guards have stood out not only to the staff, but probably to their teammates as well.

"They are two guys that have a presence about them at that position. They are two guys that are vocal leaders. They are two guys that can really score from that position. They can really pass and understand how to play that position, when to pass and when to look to score. They have an intuition about it that's hard to teach."

Already on campus and practicing with their teammates along with fellow newcomers Chris Griffin, Matthew Atewe, Alex Thompson and Dion Wade with Benas Griciunas expected on campus in the coming week, Auburn's future at the point guard position has already impressed Barbee and company with their play on the court. Saying he believes they will be much improved at the position this season, Barbee says both have what it takes to be successful because of where they have been.

"I think they'll both be able to handle it," Barbee says. "We would like to take the pressure off all of our guys. Their resumes might be a little different. If you look at Tahj he's a three-time state championship winner and Mr. Basketball. He's a winning player on the AAU circuit. He comes from a winning background so he understands what it is to lead at that position. Malcolm is the same way, it has just been at a different level and a different path."

Malcolm Canada

Just getting a feel for what his future teammates are like on the floor, Virginia transfer K.T. Harrell says he's looking forward to playing with both guys this season.

"Both Malcolm and Tahj are great point guards," Harrell says. "They mesh together well. We're going to need both of them. People are going to be really excited to see what we have at the point guard position when we step on the floor."

Winning three Georgia state titles at Columbia High, Shamsid-Deen knows all about winning. It's something that Canada has done his fair share of as well. Barbee is hoping that confidence carries over to the Tigers this season coming off a disappointing 9-23 season. 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.

"You want to recruit guys that come from a winning background because it becomes contagious," Barbee says. "You also want guys that are ultimate competitors. These early practice have been the most competitive we've had since I have been here in three years. These guys have real completion at every position.

"Every spot is up for grabs and these guys are competing for something and this team, but the chemistry we're starting to develop with this group is at an all-time high. It doesn't matter about your collection of talent, but how well they play and mesh together, not only on the floor but in the locker room as well."

Auburn will practice twice a week until leaving for The Bahamas on Aug. 2. The Tigers will practice twice more there before playing a pair of games against the Real Deal Shockers and the Bahamas All-Stars on Aug. 6 and Aug. 8.

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