Auburn, Ala.--Less than eight months off of double shoulder surgery, Auburn junior guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen is back with the Tigers and ready to help lead Coach Bruce Pearl’s second team to bigger and better things this season.
“I feel great back there on the court,” Shamsid-Deen said. “It has been a long seven months. I have been waiting for this moment since I had my first surgery. I’m glad to be back out there.”
Focusing on his rehab following his surgeries meant plenty of time spent in the weight room working out for Shamsid-Deen. That has paid off in a big way for him as he’s gained muscle since a year ago, something that has helped him make the transition back on the court much smoother.
“I feel like I’m a lot stronger,” Shamsid-Deen said. “I have put on a little more weight. I lost probably 10 pounds going through the surgery so I got all that back plus some. I feel real strong right now.”
Expected to be one of the leaders on this year’s team because of his experience and attitude, Shamsid-Deen averaged 9.5 points per game as a freshman before dropping to just 6.1 points per game a year ago because of his shoulder problems.
Not counted on to be a huge scorer, Shamsid-Deen’s defense and unselfish play are the things that Pearl is looking for to help show the way for a group of talented newcomers that are joining the program this year. Even though it’s still very early Shamsid-Deen said there’s a lot to like about the roster at the moment.
“It’s really fun playing with the new guys,” Shamsid-Deen said. “We have a lot more talent and we’re a lot deeper team than we were last year. I really can’t wait to see that the final product looks like.
“I really think all of our new guys are pretty special in one certain way. You’ve got Horace that’s probably one of the hardest working people I’ve ever played with. T.D. (T.J. Dunans) is very athletic. He’s going to catch a lot of bodies this year.
“Bryce (Bryce Brown) is probably going to be one of the best shooters in the SEC this year. New (New Williams) has a 50-inch vertical. Tyler (Tyler Harris) is very versatile and crafty. We have a lot of good new guys on the team.”
Even though he wasn’t as highly recruited as some of the others, Brown hasn’t taken long to make an impression on his new teammates because of his ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter. Shamsid-Deen said it hasn’t been a surprise to him to see Brown’s range, but it’s something the opposition better be prepared for.
“I have been knowing Bryce since he was probably like 10,” Shamsid-Deen said. “They better learn that he can shoot because he’s got unlimited range and he’s not afraid to shoot the ball at all.”
With more depth and capable bodies to work with the biggest question for Pearl and his staff this preseason will be finding the right combination of guys that work well together. Shamsid-Deen said that’s something that comes together over time so right now the focus is just on improving.
“As we get closer to that first game coach is going to do that,” Shamsid-Deen said of the roles for the team. “Everybody is going to learn what they have to do to be out there on the court and help our team be successful.”