Ranked the 20th best group in the country by Scout.com, Auburn's class features the nation's 31st ranked prospect, 6-7 1/2 forward Korvotney Barber from Manchester, Ga., High and 6-9, 245 forward Joey Cameron, players who are expected to immediately challenge for starting jobs for 2005-2006 season. Cameron, who is from Leeds High, is ranked as the No. 9 power forward prospect in the country by Scout.com.
More immediate inside help is expected from Josh Dollard, a 6-8, 220 forward from Prince Avenue Prep in Pickens, S.C. He averaged 22 points and 13 rebounds per game as a junior and chose Auburn over Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Indiana, Oklahoma, UAB and others. He is another player expected to challenge for a starting job as a freshman for the 2005-2006 season.
"I have got to be pretty pleased with our first one," Lebo tells Inside the Auburn Tigers in commenting on his first early signee class at Auburn. "We obviously got in late and we filled some needs. We still have got to fill some needs, but early here we felt we helped ourselves and filled some needs, especially inside. We need to continue to address those needs in the spring.
"We may sign two more, and possibly three, in the spring period," Lebo adds. "It is never ending. We have to hit the ground running and keep going. A lot of kids, especially in the junior ranks, decide to sign late so we will be involved with a lot of different people there and try to fill out toward our 12 scholarships.
"It is like a giant jigsaw puzzle," Lebo notes. "This year we have so many empty pieces. We feel like we filled a good niche early when we had to recruit so many guys. We had to narrow it down to guys we thought we could get because we were behind the eight ball with the official visits. We got through that period okay. It could have been ugly there if we brought a lot of kids in and didn't get commitments."
With limitations due to NCAA sanctions that Lebo inherited, AU is only allowed nine official visits for this recruiting class. There will be five left for the spring signing period after everybody who took an official visit signed with the Tigers in the early period.
Auburn's first verbal commitment, 6-4 1/2 swingman Rasheem Barrett from Marist School in Atlanta, averaged 21 points and eight rebounds per game as a junior. He chose the Tigers over Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Marquette, Florida State, North Carolina State and others. He is an athletic prospect, who can play either the two-guard or small forward positions.
Signee Jarvis Hill is an all-around standout at guard, who is an effective scorer inside and outside. The 6-3 Hill earned first team All-State honors as a junior at Starkville, Miss., High School. He has transferred to Mt. Zion Christian Academy in Durham, N.C., to play as a senior. That is the same school where former Tiger and current Dallas Mavericks guard Marquis Daniels played.
Cameron, who lived in the Notasulga area near Auburn as a youngster, is ranked the 54th best prospect in the country after averaging 26 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots per game as a junior at Leeds High. He originally committed to Clemson as a junior, then decided on Tennessee before having a change of heart this fall and deciding to stay in state to play for the Tigers.
Like Cameron, Hill committed to Tennessee before changing his plans. As a junior he averaged 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds per game. He was considered one of the top senior players in Mississippi for the 2004-2005 season before leaving the state.
Hill averaged 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds per game as a junior. He originally transferred to Central Park Christian, a private school in the Birmingham area, before deciding to play his senior season at Mt. Zion.
Dollard, who has a good outside shooting touch and can play the small forward spot, has long arms that help make him a strong defensive player. He had offers from colleges around the country before deciding that Auburn offered a great opportunity for early playing time.
Barber, who will be a four-year starter for Manchester High, averaged 14 points as a junior and has developed a reputation as a player who matched up physically with the top prospects in the country when playing on the AAU and camp circuits. He is an strong rebounder who chose Auburn over Kentucky, Arizona, FSU and many others.
All of the early signees are expected to enroll at Auburn in August 2005. Lebo is looking to rebuild a team that will be losing five seniors and had four players leave the program earlier this year during the transition from the Cliff Ellis coaching staff to the Lebo coaching staff.