Auburn, Ala.-- Auburn freshman point guard Jared Harper won’t have to wait long for the first major test of his college basketball playing days and it is coming in Friday night’s regular season opener vs. North Florida.
Harper’s assignment will be to play against 2015-16 Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year, Dallas Moore. The 6-1 senior point guard led his league in scoring at 19.8 points per game and was No. 1 in assists at 6.0 per contest.
“Talk about being thrown right into the fire in his first regular season game,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “He is going to be going up against a first team all-conference player and the player of the year type of player. Jared has prepared. He is one of those young men who has prepared for this moment for a long time.
“He is a really smart player who makes everybody better both offensively and defensively,” Pearl added. “I?am excited for him.”
Tipoff for Friday’s game is set for 8:30 p.m. CST at Auburn Arena as part of a doubleheader with the Auburn women’s team that will open its season at 5:30 p.m. vs. Troy,
Harper, a four-star recruit who is playing ahead of graduate transfer point guard Ronnie Johnson, said he is looking forward to the game.
The freshman noted that he has respect for Moore. “I?watched film on him,”?Harper said. “He is good and smart. As a senior he has been there for a while so I am going to come into the game playing 100 percent trying to contain him.”
Jared Harper is one of three freshmen in the AU starting lineup along with Mustapha Heron and Danjel Purifoy.
Harper said he sees signs that his team is making progress this preseason.
“We have been working hard,” the point guard said. “Coming into a couple of weeks of official practices before our scrimmage against Chattanooga and our (exhibition) opener last week vs. Montevallo we have been trying to figure things out to be ready for the games that really count.”
“I felt good playing against Chattanooga,” he said of the closed scrimmage dominated by the Tigers. “We all shared the ball and we got each other open. We played a good defensive game and we played good all-around. We are going to try to bring that same energy into every game this season.”
The Tigers defeated Montevallo 96-68 last Friday night, but Pearl wasn’t particularly pleased with his team’s performance and Harper understands why.
“We did alright against Montevallo, but we had a lot of turnovers,” Harper said. “We are going to have to fix that going into the season. That is what we have been working on in practice and in studying film to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes and so we can capitalize on the opportunities we get.”