Birmingham, Ala.--It was no surprise that Kentucky was predicted to win the 2017 Southeastern Conference men's basketball championship in voting by a select panel of both SEC and national media members, but the Auburn Tigers being picked 11th in the league is another story.
With a talented but young roster, Coach Bruce Pearl’s Tigers have a chance to take a step forward this season. Counting on a big group of newcomers such as five-star Mustapha Heron, four-star Jared Harper, athletic forward Anfernee McLemore, transfers Ronnie Johnson and LaRon Smith, as well as redshirt freshman Danjel Purifoy, Auburn will have a much different look this season.
“I think the newcomers are good,” said Pearl. “The best thing about it would be Jared, Ronnie, LaRon, Danjel, Anfernee and Mustapha, I think they have picked up things pretty quickly. That is important, especially the point guards to be able to pick up on what we are going to try to do.
“I think they are all going to have an impact. The best part of our team right now is that we have 10 or 11 guys who can play, and we will play 10 or 11 guys.”
Guard T.J. Dunans is Auburn's leading returning scorer, averaging 11.6 points a season ago. Sophomore Bryce Brown returns after averaging 10.1 points per game as a freshman last year. Also back are T.J. Lang on the perimeter, Horace Spencer in the middle and guard New Williams.
Auburn opens the season Nov. 4 in an exhibition game vs. Montevallo and one week later on Nov. 11 the Tigers take on North Florida in the season opener at Auburn Arena.
Preseason Media Poll
First Team All-SEC
Moses Kingsley - Arkansas, F, 6-10, 230, Sr., Abuja, Nigeria
J.J. Frazier - Georgia, G, 5-10, 155, Sr., Glennville, Ga.
Edrice "Bam" Adebayo - Kentucky, F, 6-10, 260, Fr., Little Washington, N.C.
De'Aaron Fox - Kentucky, G, 6-3, 187, Fr., Houston, Texas
Tyler Davis - Texas A&M, C, 6-10, 270, So., Plano, Texas
Second Team All-SEC
KeVaughn Allen - Florida, G, 6-2, 183, So., Little Rock, Ark.
Yante Maten - Georgia, F, 6-8, 240, Jr., Pontiac, Mich.
Isaiah Briscoe - Kentucky, G, 6-3, 210, So., Newark, N.J.
Malik Monk - Kentucky, G, 6-3, 200, Fr., Lepanto, Ark.
Antonio Blakeney - LSU, G, 6-4, 190, So., Sarasota, Fla.
Quinndary Weatherspoon - Mississippi State, G, 6-4, 202, So., Canton, Miss.
Luke Kornet - Vanderbilt, F, 7-1, 250, Sr., Lantana, Texas
SEC Player of the Year: Moses Kingsley, Arkansas