Freshman Point Pushing For Starting Role

Lefty freshman point guard Tajh Shamsid-Deen is one of the newcomers who is expected to contribute immediately for Coach Tony Barbee's Auburn basketball team.

Auburn, Ala.--Although he is the smallest player on the roster newcomer Tajh Shamsid-Deen is likely to take a big role on the 2013-14 Auburn basketball team.

Generously listed at five-foot-ten, the diminutive point guard performed well on Auburn's exhibition tour to The Bahamas in August and is expected to make a strong push to be a starter even though he is a true freshman.

"Tajh is wise beyond his years," says Auburn coach Tony Barbee, who signed Shamsid-Deen out of Columbia High School in Decatur, Ga., where he was a key player on three state championship teams.

"Obviously, he has speed and quickness," Barbee says. "He has great court vision. He has what I call an old man's game. He sees the floor, he sees the game like a point guard should. Those are intangibles that you can't coach. If you are trying to coach those into your guards you are not going to be at the level you should be. He does that naturally."

A left-hander with a good shooting touch, Shamsid-Deen is physically about the same size as Auburn's starting point guard from last season, Josh Wallace, but is a much better shooter.

"I am working on making my right hand stronger," the freshman says when asked what he is concentrating on in the team's preseason practices.

"In college you take more bumping than you do in high school so I am working on becoming stronger overall," he adds.

"I am also working on my deep ball," says the point guard, who notes that he feels comfortable shooting up to a couple of feet beyond the three-point line. "We are definitely going to extend that a little bit more because in the SEC being a little guard they will give you some room, but you have to have a consistent jump shot to be successful."

Like others on the 2013-14 squad, Shamsid-Deen says he enjoyed the team-building trip the Tigers took to The Bahamas in August.

"It was a lot of fun," he points out. "I went there to play my 11th grade year, but this summer it was more fun because we got to do more stuff. We had two games against two good teams that had some of their national team members so it was a good experience."

The freshman notes that he feels like he is fitting in well with his new teammates and says he is not alone. "The team definitely has good chemistry," Shamsid-Deen declares. "I have been here since May and I have gotten to know the guys and their tendencies. Everything is going pretty well. We have got a long way to go, but we are getting off to a pretty good start."

Shamsid-Deen is expected to share playing time with juco transfer Malcolm Canada, who is 6-3, 224 from Austin, Tex., via Ellsworth Community College in Iowa.

Barbee says that Canada is also a natural point guard who has that in common along with Shamsid-Deen in a "bigger body."

"He doesn't necessarily have the speed and quickness of Tajh, but he has the savvy to get to where he needs to go on the court," the coach says. "I like the combination of having of two really good point guards who play well off each other. They support each other because at the end of the day they know they need each other."

Auburn's point guards and the rest of the 2013-14 team will go on public display for the first time on Friday night at the Jungle Jam Madness event at Auburn Arena, something Barbee says is being done to get students excited about the upcoming basketball season that starts with an Oct. 28th exhibition game vs. Victory University.

The Jungle Jam Madness will feature Grammy winner Ludacris and comedic actor Mike Epps. Doors to the arena will open at 6 p.m. CDT and the event that includes a scrimmage, a slam dunk contest, a three-point contest, Aubie plus the pep band along with the cheerleaders is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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