One of the players Coach Bruce Pearl is counting on to provide some quality minutes this season is true freshman forward Jack Purchase. Coming to Auburn from Melbourne, Australia, Purchase is 6-8, 205, but looks more like a big guard than a forward at the moment. Working on his size and stamina since arriving on campus late last spring, Purchase noted he is happy to be getting a shot to play this season and is looking forward to continuing his progress on and off the court.
“It’s exciting,” the freshman said. “My first college season, I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a lot different than back home. It’s good. This summer really helped me a lot. I came in not physically ready at all. At the moment I’m getting there, but I’m a lot fitter because of the work since May.”
Getting to Auburn and having the chance to work out all summer was an eye-opening experience for Purchase with big guys like Cinmeon Bowers to work against in practice and even veteran guards like K.T. Harrell and Antoine Mason a load to handle in the paint. It was a learning experience, but one he said helped him learn how he needs to play this season.
“I wasn’t shocked because I knew it was going to be a lot different, but there are some big boys here and they’re very strong. We’ll just see what happens. For me I have to play more with my head. I can’t really out-strength them so I have to be in a better position. I have to get down low and play good defense.”
Going into the season as a backup to Jordon Granger at the four position, Purchase will be a different type of player for the Tigers this season. Mostly a perimeter player, he has the skill-set that will make him tough for other power forwards to defend. That’s something Auburn will try to exploit while getting Purchase up to speed on the finer points of playing post defense.
One of the guys working with the freshman is Auburn legend Chuck Person. A deadly shooter from the perimeter that had unlimited range, Person sees a lot to like in Purchase so far and believes he’s got a chance to do some big things before he’s done at Auburn.
“That’s where the game is going,” said Person, who returned to Auburn this year as an assistant coach. “A stretch-four like Jack, he’s got a laser. He can really shoot that thing. It gets me excited when a guy can shoot it and shoot it with distance.
"He’s got some things he has to work on," Person adds. "He has to get stronger and be a little more physical inside to bring that presence that we need. He is never going to be a guy that is going to totally dominate inside so we’re going to use his strengths and hide his weaknesses like most coaches will do, but Jack is going to help us this year.”
With just nine scholarship players available to play heading into Friday night’s 9 p.m. season opener against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Auburn needs all hands on deck as the Tigers prepare for a very challenging non-conference schedule. Not looking too far ahead, Purchase said for him it’s all about the opener and getting a college game under his belt.
“We have been practicing since May going against the same guys every day,” Purchase pointed out. “I’m looking forward to playing someone else and having a crack in that big stadium. Hopefully, the seats are filled. I’m looking forward to it.”
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