Leading that charge will be four returning starters who accounted for 70 percent of the scoring and 65 percent of the rebounding from last year's squad.
With last season's leading scorer Marquis Daniels (6-6, 200, Jr.) adjusting to a new position and still not 100 percent physically coming off a summer stress fracture in his foot, Daniels is expected to take a reserve role on Thursday night. Daniels, who has played the two guard, small forward and power forward positions, is getting a look at point guard.
True freshman Dwayne Mitchell will start at the point for the opener. Mitchell, 6-4, 195, was a two guard in high school, but is trying to learn a new position. The Tigers are short in depth and experience at point guard with Jamison Brewer going pro and Lincoln Glass suspended until further notice for violating team rules. Glass can practice but not play in games.
At the two guard spot, junior college transfer Derrick Bird (6-4, 195, Jr.) gets the nod. Already the best defender on the team and similar in stature and stamina to former Tiger Bryant Smith, Bird should be a treat for Tiger fans to watch because of his strong offensive game as well as his good defense.
At power forward Abdou Diame (6-9, 210, So.) is back and is a bigger and stronger version of the player Tiger fans grew to enjoy last season. However, he will have to play exceptionally well to hold off a challenge from true freshman Marco Killingsworth, a 6-8, 240-pounder lefty.
At small forward, Adam Harrington (6-5, 200, Jr.) is the returning starter. Help is coming from freshman Brandon Robinson, who can also play the two guard spot, is an athletic 6-8, 215-pounder.
At center Kyle Davis (6-10, 220, Jr.) is ready to resume his role of defensive dominator for this Tiger team. Following his strong freshman season, Davis should give Auburn a player inside that is capable of making the lane his personal playground. He showed flashes of that last season when he totaled 84 blocks, including a school-record 13 in Auburn's win over Miami in the first round of the NIT.
When the Tigers make substitutions look for Lewis Monroe and center Mack McGadney (6-7, 250, Sr.) to among the first players off the bench. A former starter, McGadney is recovering from major knee surgery as well as a suspension from the team earlier this fall. Monroe, Robinson and Killingsworth teamed with Mitchell and Bird to give the Tigers the third-ranked recruiting class in the country, something that should keep the foundation of this program as solid.
While not a familiar name, the Global Sports All-Stars have several players that will be recognizable to Auburn fans. At the guard spots they have Mark Young (6-6, 200, Kansas State), Gary Williams (6-6, 220, USC) and former Ole Miss point guard Jason Flanigan (6-0, 195). In the paint former Georgia Bulldog player Terrell Bell (6-11, 245) and Miami star Mario Bland (6-8, 270) give Global Sports some bulk and experience.
This is the first of 13 games in 13 days for Global Sports as that team heads to UAB Friday night for the second trip on the docket. After that teh all-stars play at Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, LSU, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Tulane, New Orleans, North Carolina State, UNC-Charlotte, Iowa State and Creighton.
There is no admission charge for the game vs. Global Sports. The Tigers return to the court November 9 when they face the EA Sports All-Stars in the final exhibition game of the year. Tip-off for that game is 7 p.m. Auburn opens the regular season November 16 when High Point travels to Auburn for a 7 p.m. start the night before the Auburn-Alabama football game.
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