MMQB Column: Senior Bowl and Hoops Future

Taking a look at some of the players who helped their cause in the Senior Bowl as well as a piece of the puzzle for the future of Auburn hoops are featured in this edition of our Monday Morning Quarterback Column.

Following a week of playing defensive back at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, it’s obvious we witnessed something special in Nick Marshall the last two seasons for the Auburn Tigers. There is no question in my mind that he could have played quarterback last week and would have been the best player at the position for the South team, but he made a decision that few would have made, and it’s likely going to pay off for him in a big way.

Shaking off three years of absence from working on his cornerback skills, Marshall showed he is willing to compete and that is one of the things pro teams want to see out of potential draft picks. The other thing he showed was the natural athleticism that made him such a dangerous offensive weapon for the Tigers.

Also, it was his willingness to play physical football that put the finishing touches on a big week for Marshall. While he won’t be a first round pick, if he runs well at the NFL Combine it wouldn’t be surprising to see Marshall a second or third round pick in the draft.

Another player who helped his stock during the week, and especially during the game, was center Reese Dismukes. Showing the ability to get to the second level in the running game and also in the screen game, the four-year starter had already proven to be durable during his career with the Tigers. It would be surprising if he wasn’t one of the first three centers taken, likely in the first three to four rounds.

Perhaps the player who helped himself the most with his week was running back Cameron Artis-Payne. With the position becoming more and more devalued in the NFL in recent seasons, runnnig backs have to show the ability to be versatile in order to make it in the league. That is what Artis-Payne did throughout the week by showing he can catch the ball out of the backfield. Not asked to do much of that in Gus Malzahn’s offense, Artis-Payne was consistent catching the football and that has to be good news for him when you add in his ability to grind out yards between the tackles. Still not likely a threat to move into the top half of the draft, Artis-Payne may have earned himself a shot with his play during the week.

Making Strides

It wasn’t a win for Bruce Pearl and the Tigers on the road at Alabama, but make no mistake about it, Auburn’s basketball program is on the rise. While the talent still isn’t on the level of much of the rest of the league, the Tigers have already shown the ability to compete in an improved SEC. Now the next step is to win on the road.

Saturday was a great opportunity to do just that, but once again too many bad possessions proved to be Auburn’s undoing down the stretch. The lack of scoring punch outside of K.T. Harrell, Cinmeon Bowers and Antoine Mason makes it tough for the Tigers in crunch time, but that won’t be the case next season when you add in one of the most talented signing classes in the last 20 years for Auburn basketball.

Kareem Canty has been impressive while sitting out this season.

The most important piece of the puzzle is already on campus, however, with transfer point guard Kareem Canty working out with the team. Redshirting this year after averaging 16.3 points per game last season as a freshman at Marshall, Canty is the real deal. I had the opportunity to watch him in action before a recent Auburn home game and it was a sight to behold.

Working with Auburn assistant Harris Adler, Canty went through a variety of shooting drills over the span of probably 20-30 minutes. During the time he probably made close to 70 percent of his shots from behind the three-point line, much of them coming on the move off imaginary screens. Very explosive with the ability to get to the rim in addition to his shooting touch, Canty’s addition next season could be just the thing to take the Tigers to the next level.

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