With Atewe Out, Walk-on Waddell Is In

Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl is looking for inside help from walk-on forward Devin Waddell.

Devin Waddell (right) guards Cinmeon Bowers in an Auburn basketball practice.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Bruce Pearl said on Wednesday that it will take a group effort for the Auburn basketball Tigers to overcome the loss of sophomore center Matthew Atewe.

The six-foot-eight, 255-pound freshman reinjured a leg that had a stress fracture last year and is out indefinitely, Pearl said.

Matthew Atewe is shown at a practice prior to being injured in the exhibition game vs. West Alabama.

With a roster that was already short on big men prior to losing Atewe, Pearl pointed out the entire group needs to step up to compensate for the sophomore’s absence.

“I think it is going to be a team aspect,” he said. “Everybody from the point guards to the wings, everybody has got to get involved in rebounding.”

Auburn opens the regular season with a 9 p.m. home game on Friday vs. the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a team that will have a size advantage on the Tigers unlike the West Alabama team Auburn defeated 94-58 in an exhibition game last Friday.

“We do not play above the rim,” Pearl said. “Matt was the one guy that we had who could block a shot, and now we don’t block shots.

“We are going to have to rotate, take charges, and try to do a great job on the ball and not getting beat on balls that require help so we will have to play great defense and limit them to one shot,” the coach added.

“West Alabama got a couple of free throw rebounds that we cannot have when we go up against bigger, stronger, more physical teams,” Pearl added. “Jack Purchase is a freshman four man, a freshman power forward. He really is doing a nice job. He is going to be a really good player, but he is probably 210 pounds soaking wet.”

With Atewe unavailable the Tigers will count on 6-5, 221 junior walk-on Devin Waddell to help with rebounding and playing defense on big men.

“I have been talking about Devin being the 10th guy on the roster for the past two or three weeks--in practice and in team meetings, and things like that,” Pearl said. “If we get in foul trouble, we would go with Devin.

“What does that mean? I guess at the time I was doing it we had 10 scholarship players available to us so it put him ahead of (freshman guard/small forward) T.J. Lang, who is at a position where we have a lot of seniors.

“Devin has been on notice that if we get in foul trouble, and things like that, then he will be out there,” Pearl said. “Devin is an engineer. He is a really bright kid. We are really glad to have him in our program and at Auburn. He can defend, he has a high basketball IQ, he is physical, he is tough and he is going to get the opportunity of a lifetime. Again, I’m really glad he is here.”

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