Recruiting Battles Nothing Personal, Coach Says

Auburn and Tennessee's coaches will resume their rivalry on Saturday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Auburn, Ala.--When one University of Tennessee basketball verbal commitment changed his choice of colleges from Tennessee to Auburn it was news last year.

When it happened for a second time, it was bigger news as new Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo battled for high school seniors vs. Tennessee's Buzz Peterson. They are long-time friends who were both star guards for Hall of Fame Coach Dean Smith at North Carolina.

Joey Cameron, a 6-7, 250-pound power forward from Leeds High in Birmingham, made the switch from the Vols to the Tigers. He signed a scholarship to play for Auburn in November and will join the 2005-2006 Auburn team.

Cameron was followed by Jarvis Hill, a 6-3, 180 guard from Starkville, Miss., who is playing at Mt. Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina this season.

"People blew it out of proportion, I think," Lebo says of the recruiting competition. "We have battled for players before when I was at (Tennessee) Tech and he was at Appy (Appalachian State University) he beat me on a couple and I got a couple.

"When you are in the same area you are going for those players," Lebo notes. "It was nothing personal. He will get his share. Hopefully, I will get mine. When you are in such close proximity, it is just going to happen."

Buzz Peterson

The two coaching staffs also went head to head on 6-8, 220 forward Josh Dollard from Pickens, S.C., who also chose the Tigers, who are in major need of help at every position.

Lebo played guard at North Carolina from 1985-89. Peterson played the four seasons prior to the UT coach's arrival in Chapel Hill.

"We still talk on the phone and we are still friends," Lebo says of his relationship with Peterson. It is hard when you do it, but it is your livelihood. You have got to compete no matter who it is on the other end playing. If it was my dad, I would still want to win."

The two coaches will be competing to put their teams in the victory column on Saturday at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in Auburn. Tipoff time is 5 p.m. for a game that will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net.

Auburn, 9-9 overall, is 0-5 in SEC games. The Vols are 10-9 overall and 3-3 in the SEC.

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