T.J. Dunans (above) is a junior for the Auburn basketball team.
Auburn, Ala.--Auburn’s new-look basketball roster features a player who also has a new look for the 2015-16 season.
Since arriving on campus early this summer junior college transfer T.J. Dunans has been working on his strength and conditioning. “I’m 190,” he says. “I have gained 20 pounds since I came here so I’m trying to get bigger and stronger.”
Coach Bruce Pearl and his staff are putting the Tigers through preseason drills as the team prepares for its first exhibition game, which is set for October 30th vs. Brevard College. Pearl’s second season as head coach of the Tigers will officially begin with a home game on Nov. 13th vs. UAB.
On Saturday the six-foot-five Dunans had a strong defensive performance in Auburn's scrimmage. He scored eight points, hitting 4-7 field goals, and finished the session with four steals and a team-high five assists. "I played alright, but I could have played a little better," he said.
“Everything is going good,” Dunans says of adjusting to college life at Auburn after playing the past two seasons at Columbia State in Tennessee. “I am still trying to get used to the defenses. There is a lot going on with the offense so I am trying to get used to it.”
A player with excellent quickness, Dunans can handle guard or forward. Offensively, his strength is attacking the basketball in one-on-one situations and blowing past defenders. “It’s just God’s gift,” he says of his athletic ability. “He just blessed me with this.”
He used his ability to average 19.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in his two seasons at the junior college level. On Saturday he was very quick getting up and down the court for the Tigers. "I love to get out and run and I feel I can't be stopped in transition," he said.
Dunans is trying to take advantage of his ability by becoming a more skilled performer, particularly on offense. “I am trying to get my shot more consistent,” he says.
T.J. Dunans is shown during a workout at Auburn Arena.
The newcomer points out that he has expectations to help the Tigers become an improved team as part of a roster than features new players who should contribute at every position.
“I played for Columbia State and we were the number three team in the country,” he says. “It was real good so I’m just trying to bring what I learned from there to here. I’m used to winning so that’s what I’m going to try to do here.”
Noting that he feels like he is “fitting in good” with the Tigers, he says, “Our team chemistry is real good--it’s better than I expected, but everybody gets along, everybody is friends off the court and on.”
The junior adds that he is eager to see how the team performs. “I can’t wait. It’s the only thing I talk about, the season.
"We still have a lot of stuff to work on, but we are coming along great," he said after Saturday's scrimmage, which featured a double-double from another newcomer, Tyler Harris, who scored 18 points and pulled in 12 rebounds.
"We have to become more physical, get our defense better and come together as a team," Dunans said.
Pearl said he likes what he saw from Dunans in the scrimmage. "He had five assists and two turnovers," the coach said. "He led us in assists again and he had four steals. Even though he is on the wing he is one our best breakdown guys. He is really hard to stay in front of and he is a very, very willing passer. That is obviously encouraging."