Auburn, Ala.--Reinforcements are on the way for the Auburn basketball team when the Tigers take the court for their next game, a Sunday contest at Clemson.
Reed will be by far the tallest player on a team that has a height issue. More help in that area will come from the return of six-foot-eight forward Alex Thompson, who was suspended from the squad during fall semester for violation of team rules.
Reed, a highly-recruited prospect, originally signed with Maryland, but that college withdrew his scholarship offer after the signee was arrested in an incident in which he was arrested for taking candy from a store and having a confrontation with a plains clothes police officer. He has pleaded guilty and apologized for the incident.
“Trayvon is from Alabama,” Pearl said. “He grew up here, played summer basketball with K.T. Harrell and knows how special a place Auburn is. And like myself, he is also grateful for the blessing of a second chance.”
Asked about how much Reed could play on Sunday, Pearl said, “If he plays, he’ll clearly have to come off the bench. There’s no chance he would start. If he plays, we’ll have to give him a limited play call, but the other thing that does is it puts Brad Brownell is an interesting chess match. He knows there’s only certain things he can do, so does he change things up to try and confuse him? You don’t want to put those players in position to fail.
"He would have to understand how to handle pressure. He would have to understand how to handle zone, under-basket out of bounds. It would be a lot to ask, so I would not expect him to play a major role in the game on Sunday.”
Commenting on what he expects from Reed, Pearl said, “I have watched tape, and that’s it, so I don’t know what all he can do. I do know he can run the floor, block shots and be a bit of a rim protector, which is something we don’t have.
"Clearly, he fills the need. It’s a lot to ask after he has been out quite some time. You talk about having to go play on the road at Clemson, if that’s going to be the first time he gets any time at all – Winthrop or Xavier, we’re looking at three really good opponents the next three times.
"Whatever it is, the sooner we can get him out there and involved, the more it will feel a little more normal. This team has built good chemistry. This team has good chemistry. Now, all of the sudden, you’re adding a couple guys, chemistry will change a little bit. We have to work at that continuing to be good. We need the depth. We need the talent. We need the shot in the arm, so chemistry will be an issue.”
Reed spent the fall semester at Elev8 Academy in Delray Beach, Fla., where he finished school work to become an academic qualifier.
Commenting on deciding to add Reed to the team after his arrest, Pearl said, “This was my decision, but I did want input from other people on campus. If things don’t work out, it’s on me. I don’t want to put it on anyone else.
"At the same time, I do trust and wanted the input from other people on campus. I’m not going to talk about his visits and who he visited with, but just that I did get input. The decision to bring me here was probably a decision that was made by a number of people so it’s important that I got that input and trust from others, and it’s what we do.
"Whether or not Trayvon takes advantage of this, whether or not Alex takes advantage of this, it’s what we do. If they don’t, as long as you’re in this profession, you get to a situation where nothing surprised you, but you still get disappointed. If the time ever comes where you stop getting disappointed when you give somebody a second or third chance and they don’t take advantage of it, you need to do something else. I will be disappointed if these guys don’t take full advantage of this opportunity, but nothing surprised you when you’re dealing with young people.
"That’s the thing about being on a college campus. K.T. (Harrell) graduating, it’s huge. He had a lot of work to do this summer and fall. He was a long way away last spring, but he buckled down and really pushed. Those are the great, great victories. Of course, you go through and there’s guys that slip up and fall. Then, the question is are they going to pick themselves back and get things right.”
Even more help is expected on Sunday with the return of senior guard Antoine Mason, who suffered an ankle injury in the opening game vs. Milwaukee. Mason, the nation’s leading scorer, is a transfer from Niagara, who transferred to Auburn this season. He scored 19 points in his one game played so far.
Alex Thompson is shown in action as a freshman.
Thompson walked on to the Auburn team last year and played in 21 games. An All-State performer as a senior at Houston Academy in Dothan, he originally signed with Stetson, but decided not to attend that college after a coaching change. He was put on scholarship last season by former Coach Tony Barber.
Thompson averaged 7.8 minutes of playing time per game last season with one point and 1.5 rebounds per contest.
Tipoff for the Clemson game is 3 p.m. CST at Littlejohn Coliseum.