Arrival of Transfer Guards Pleases Pearl

Basketball coach Bruce Pearl discusses the arrivals of Antoine Mason and Kareem Canty after their first practice at Auburn.

Auburn, Ala.--When Bruce Pearl put his Auburn basketball team on the court for a 90-minute workout on Wednesday evening the coach was excited about having two more guards to train.

Antoine Mason, a high-scoring transfer from Niagara University, and Kareem Canty, a point guard transfer from Marshall, took their first Auburn University classes on Wednesday and participated in their first AU practice several hours later.

"It is just great to have two good guards join our team who can both play," said Pearl. "We threw them in there today." He noted that the newcomers quickly caught on to the offensive sets he was teaching as well as the fastbreak drills.

Mason, as a college graduate with one more year of eligibility, will be immediately eligible to play for the 2014-15 season. Canty will have to redshirt this season and will have two seasons of eligibility after that.

Antoine Mason is shown at his first Auburn practice.

There is a good possibility that junior college transfer Cinmeon Bowers, a power forward from Chipola Junior College in Florida, will be able to start classes on Thursday.

Another player expected to join the team, guard K.C. Ross-Miller, is expected to play for the Tigers as a postgrad athlete like Mason and he could also be ready to enroll this week, but may have to wait until August.

"In the cases with Antoine being a fifth-year and Kareem being a transfer from Marshall, the amount of work that is required to not only be able to recruit them, but to then make sure they are academically in good standing and get them into the proper coursework, and getting them admitted, it is an enormous effort," Pearl said.

The coach noted it is a good thing to have as many players on campus this summer as possible as a new coaching staff and the players get to know each other. He has praise for the help he is getting from Auburn officials to make that happen.

"There is such cooperation," Pearl said. "I have never been at a place where between myself and our staff, compliance, academics, university deans and things like that, everybody is working together to make it happen. I do think that both Kareem and Antoine are appreciative of all the efforts. It is not just the coaches.

"Just to get them here, and to get them here in the summer...it is in the best interest of the student-athletes' welfare that they are here," Pearl stated. "I just can't tell you how much work everybody had to do to get them here."

Mason averaged 26.5 points per game in 2013-14 and should contribute immediately to an Auburn team that struggled offensively last season.

Asked what he likes about Mason as a player, Pearl said, "The fact that he can break it down, the fact that he can break it down on threes and go get big-boy twos and is a willing passer.

"He lives at the foul line. That is what scorers do. We have to create movement and space to put him in those one-on-one situations. You have to guard him from three. He has worked really hard on extending his range.

"Kareem is a New York City point guard," Pearl said of Canty, a 6-1, 185-pounder who averaged 16.3 points and 5.5 assists this past season as a redshirt freshman. He decided to leave Marshall after Coach Tom Herrion was fired. "He just knows how to play," Pearl said.

"They both want to play professionally when they are done with their degrees," Pearl added. "As a result they are going to train accordingly. They are going to study accordingly. They are going to lift, eat and get their rest.

"We have a couple of other guys who are in our program who are also interested in going pro and train that way," the coach noted. "They are going to be in the gym all the time and they are not going to let life's distractions bother them. This is a priority for them and why they are here."

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