Newcomer T.J. Dunans is shown at practice for the Auburn basketball team.
The Tigers are less than two months away from their regular season opener when UAB will visit Auburn Arena for a contest on Nov. 13th. Prior to that the team will play home exhibition games vs. Brevard College on Oct. 30th and the University of Indianapolis on Nov. 5th.
Pearl’s roster features a sizable group of newcomers and the coach should have more talent, more size and more depth to work with for the 2015-16 season.
“We are better, but the league is also better,” Pearl told Inside the Auburn Tigers about Auburn’s competition in the Southeastern Conference. “That is okay though. I am very excited to see what we can do.
“I think you could see we have done a better job as coaches getting our team ready for our first practice,” Pearl said. “I think that is because there are some fundamental things we already have in place.”
The group of newcomers includes 6-9 post player Horace Spencer from Findlay Prep in Nevada, 6-3 guard Bryce Brown from Tucker High in Stone Mountain, Ga., 6-10 forward Tyler Harris, a transfer from Providence College, 6-2 guard New Williams from Santa Monica, Calif., High School, 6-5 guard/forward T.J. Dunans from Columbia State Community College in Tennessee along with 6-6 forward Danjel Purifoy from Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, who is enrolled in classes and practicing, but still awaiting academic clearance to play this season.
Horace Spencer (above) dunks in a practice at Auburn Arena.
The newcomers are freshmen with the exceptions of Dunans, a junior from Atlanta who played two seasons of juco ball, and Harris, a graduate student transfer who has one season of eligibility.
Kareem Canty, a 6-1 junior point guard, is eligible to play this season after sitting out the 2014-15 schedule as a transfer from Marshall. He could practice with the Tigers last season, but could not play in games.
Another junior point guard, Tahj Shamsid-Deen, went through his first full contact workout on Tuesday since being shut down during last season due to injuries.
The guard started all 30 games as a freshman and last season started 15 times and played in eight other games before he had the first of two surgeries, one on each shoulder.
“He looks like his old self out there,” Pearl said of Shamsid-Deen. “He is just happy to be healthy. I am just praying in the first few weeks of contact he can take a hit and those shoulders don’t pop. He brings us such great energy.”
Shamsid-Deen averaged 9.5 points as a freshman and 6.1 as a sophomore while being limited by his injuries.
“I feel great,” Shamsid-Deen said. “The rehab went great. I feel like I am back to my normal self. I don’t have those big braces on any more so I am happy about that.”
Shamsid-Deen noted that his goal for this season is to help the Tigers earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. “We definitely are more talented this year,”?he said.
Trayvon Reed, a 7-2 sophomore center, is not currently enrolled at Auburn to deal with personal issues and whether or not he will return has not been determined.
Returning team members at Tuesday’s practice include 6-7 senior forward Cinmeon Bowers, 6-7 sophomore guard T.J. Lang, 6-8 senior forward Jordon Granger and 6-5 senior Devin Waddell, a former walk-on who is on scholarship this season.
Other team members are walk-ons. The group includes 6-3 senior guard Jonathan Walker, a former member of the AU track and field team, 6-0 sophomore guard Patrick Keim, 6-2 freshman guard Zach Allison, 6-9 freshman Cole Blackstock and 6-4 senior guard Cole Stockton.