Trio of Auburn Basketball Guards Hurt to Open Season

A pair of Auburn guards are injured and will not be available as Coach Bruce Pearl's basketball Tigers open the season on Friday while another guard is questionable for the game vs. Brevard College.

Tahj-Shamsid Deen (above) is one of Auburn's most experienced players.

Auburn, Ala.--Projected starting guard  Tahj Shamsid-Deen  is expected to miss the first month of Auburn's basketball season after re-injuring a shoulder while his teammate, sophomore guard T.J. Lang, is also out of action after suffering a knee injury in practice.

Compounding the problem at the guard spot is the news that freshman sharp-shooter Bryce Brown is questionable for Friday night's game because of a back problem. Brown was limited in what he did at Wednesday evening's practice and Coach Bruce Pearl said there is a good chance Brown won't be available for the exhibition game.

Still another possibility at guard, freshman Danjel Purifoy, is practicing with the Tigers, but as of Wednesday night had not been academically cleared to play for he Tigers this season.

Shamsid-Deen suffered a right dislocated shoulder in practice. He was shut down last season to have surgery on his left shoulder in February, which was followed by surgery on March 24th for the shoulder he reinjured in practice this week.

Walk-on@Zach Allison, a six-foot-two freshman from Pelham High School, is expected to be Auburn's backup point guard for the opener behind Kareem Canty, who said that Allison is plenty good enough to contribute. An invited walk-on, Allison was an honorable All-State performer as a high school senior.

“We have had a really good preseason and with four scholarship players returning, there has been an awful lot to teach, an awful lot of learning to do and the greatest challenge is our schedule is so tough and it is so tough so early, but we were still okay until this week where we had a really difficult week," Pearl said. "Last Friday, T.J. Lang had a mild MCL sprain and is probably out for a couple of weeks. His knee reacted just like it should have and there really wasn’t a ton of damage, but it is pretty sore and he will be fine, but he will be out for a couple of weeks.

“Bryce Brown woke up Sunday morning with some stiffness in his back and has not been able to practice," Pearl said. "It being Wednesday, I think he is probably doubtful for the game on Friday. The worst injury of them all occurred yesterday at the end of practice. We were absolutely having our best practice … a lineup of Tahj at the point. Kareem at two, T.J. Dunans at three, Tyler (Harris) at four and Cim (Cinmeon Bowers) at five was firing.

"They were firing on all cylinders and towards the end of practice, Tahj had contact with another player and hit his right shoulder," Pearl pointed out. "He took a real direct blow and his shoulder dislocated again. Not the same dislocation. We believe his surgery held and because his other issues, his shoulder was coming out of the front based on reaching, this was a contact blow and his shoulder came out the back. It is less severe obviously it just happened so Dr. (James) Andrews will see him this weekend, and we will know more. I would say we are looking at a month.

"What is tragic about it is Tahj was clearly in our top two to three players, our best defender, our leader, very much the heart and soul of what we have been doing early on and that leadership will be taking over by others," Pearl said. "For Tahj to basically spend the entire offseason rehabbing two surgeries and for it to go out even though it was for a different injury, it is just really tough. It challenges you. Our heart is heavy.

"As far as our team is concerned with those early games of UAB, Colorado, Northwestern State, Georgia Southern, it is going to be really challenging without him because he is a very important player for us," the coach said.

 “As a result of everything I just told you, the five guards that will be playing the one, two and three spots for us against Brevard will be playing their first game ever in an Auburn uniform," Pearl pointed out. "The guards that I have available right now are Kareem Canty, New Williams, T.J. Dunans, Zach Allison, who is a walk-on from Pelham, and Danjel Purifoy is still not clear--it is still an ongoing process. So no Tahj, no Danjel, no Bryce, no TJ Lang … four guys all in that same position. We will have challenges.”

 Shamsid-Deen, who has won praise from Pearl for preseason performance, averaged 6.1 points per game last season before missing the final 11 regular season game for the Tigers.

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T.J. Lang is a sophomore from Mobile.

Lang, who was named the team’s Most Improved Player last season, averaged 2.4 points and 1.3 rebounds as a freshman. He played in 27 games and started six times.

With the shortage of scholarship guards, Pearl said his first choice as a backup point guard for the exhibition game could be a freshman walk-on. "I think for this first game it will be Zach Allison from Pelham, Ala. It wouldn’t surprise me as the week progresses we don’t look at T.J. Dunans at some point as well. I need to develop a third point guard.

"New Williams has a chance to be a point guard someday, but right now New is really playing better off the ball," said Pearl, who noted that Williams may start at the two guard spot vs. Brevard College. "He is playing better shooting and defending and not worrying about setting the team and running the team. He is better on the wing so I have to play him at his best position right now and that is off the ball not having the responsibility of a point guard yet.

“New Williams could very well be in the starting lineup and a week ago he wouldn’t have been anywhere near it," Auburn's second-year head coach added. "That is what having some depth is and that is what next man up except it is next man, next man, next man like four next man up. We are four deep on the next man up.”

The Tigers will play their exhibition opener on Friday vs. Brevard College. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and there is no TV coverage scheduled for the contest at Auburn Arena.

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