Auburn, Ala.--On Wednesday, Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl stated that freshman forward Danjel Purifoy would be a redshirt freshman next season after dealing with issues concerning his test score this year. A day later Pearl clarified his comments saying that the Tigers still have not received a final word on Purifoy’s situation, something that is still very much a frustration for everyone associated with the program.
“On the recruiting show yesterday I probably slipped and said next year Danjel Purifoy would be a redshirt freshman, so I said that,” Pearl said. “But the reality is we don’t have the final word from the NCAA. We’re still going through some processes with the testing agency and the NCAA.
“Now clearly, it’s very, very late in the game. Again, I appreciate our fans’ and the media’s patience in the sense that until I can tell you that it’s a done deal that he is not going to be declared a qualifier and would be eligible for competition, I really can’t say.
“He’s eligible for practice. He’s eligible to travel. He’s eligible for scholarship. He’s eligible for a lot of things. He’s not been officially cleared for competition and that’s why we’ve not been able to play him. There’s really no change on his status.”
Forced to take his ACT over again in January after being flagged by the ACT Board, Purifoy and Auburn are still playing the waiting game while hoping to get a decision back sooner rather than later. Instead of sitting idly by however, Purifoy has been practicing with the team, going to classes and spending a lot of time in the weight room
“There’s been give and take,” Pearl said of Purifoy’s situation. “There continues to be give and take, but we’ve not done anything elevated as it relates to getting him ready to go out there and play. He’s practiced with us on days that we go live, and we only go live one day a week.
“At the same time, he’s done a really good job this second semester in the weight room; he’s up to 230 now and is physically going to be even more ready when the time comes because he’s bigger and stronger, and he still has his individual workouts and so on and so forth, but also has been able to provide him with the time because no competition to focus on his academics, and he’s done a good job with his academics.”
The good news for Purifoy is that Pearl said at a minimum the talented freshman is on track to get his redshirt this season and be eligible to play next year as long as he does what he’s supposed to do in the classroom. Perhaps the biggest question comes if Purifoy gets cleared between now and the end of the regular season.
Talented enough that he’s capable of leaving school early for the NBA, Purifoy isn’t likely to be at Auburn for five years so that makes playing him very much an option at this point.
“That is, it’s almost one of those off-camera questions that I would answer for you in the sense that it’s such a hypothetical,” Pearl said. “One of the things I would look at with Danjel, you don’t want to put this on him, but I’ve always felt that within two years he could be a player that could be good enough to go play professionally.
“If he was a four-year player that never, where there would never be a consideration for leaving early, then I absolutely would not play him; he absolutely would redshirt and there would be no questions asked at this point. But because he may only be here a couple years because of his talent, but right now, I don’t have to answer that question because it doesn’t exist.”
No matter when it happens, when Purifoy gets on the court for the first time for Auburn he’ll automatically upgrade the talent in a big way for the Tigers. One of his classmates, freshman guard Bryce Brown, said he can’t wait for it to happen.
“Danjel can pretty much do everything,” Brown said. “Really good shooter, good ball handler, can find his teammates, unselfish. He can do it all. Danjel really is a really good basketball player, and it will be fun playing with him.”
Auburn (9-12, 3-6) gets back on the court this weekend when the Tigers travel to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs (12-8, 5-4) in a 4:30 p.m. (CST) start at Stegeman Coliseum.