Auburn Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl Likes His Point Guard Competition

The Auburn basketball team features a new look at the point guard position for the 2016-17 season.

Jared Harper (above) is a new member of the Auburn basketball team.

Auburn, Ala.--A pair of newcomers are competing for the No. 1 point guard assignment and Coach Bruce Pearl said both are off to good starts in Auburn's preseason basketball practices.

Jared Harper, a four-star recruit from Pebblebrook High in Georgia, is competing with graduate transfer Ronnie Johnson, who played last season for the University of Houston Cougars.

In the team’s Wednesday night scrimmage Johnson scored 14 points, added seven assists and two steals with three turnovers. He averaged 9.4 points and 2.9 assists last season for Houston.

Harper, who was the MVP?of the prestigious Peach Jam AAU tournament last year, scored 18 points and dished out three assists while turning the ball over three times in the scrimmage sessions. He also made one steal.

“I've got a senior and I've got a freshman,” Pearl said. “They're both really good. Jared Harper went on that other team, and they got down 7-0 or whatever that was, and Jared knocked down two threes late to win it. He's a special player.


Ronnie Johnson (left) and Jared Harper (right) are shown at an AU practice.

“Ronnie as a senior and as a guy with experience can really defend,” Pearl said. “He is really tough. He wants to win. Ronnie wants to win. He will either start or Jared will start. They're both going to play. They're both quick. I've got quick playmaking, ball-handling guards. They're very similar.”

Auburn will play an exhibition game on Nov. 4th vs. Montevallo and a week later open the regular season vs. North Florida as part of a doubleheader with the AU women’s team. The competition to be the starter will likely continue on into the season with the Tigers having to replace Tahj Shamsid-Deen, who would have been a junior on this year's team., but he had to give up the sport due to chronic shoulder problems.

“Jared can make plays,” Pearl said. “He can make plays defensively and offensively. Not a lot of guys can make plays defensively, but he can. He draws charges. He anticipates things.

“Ronnie can really pressure the basketball as a physical defender,”?the head coach said. “Jared, as he continues to get experience, he sees and makes a lot of things happen.”

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