Bluechip Players Getting Early Start With Tigers

Jeff Lebo's Tigers are adding more talent for his second season as Auburn's basketball coach.

Auburn, Ala.--Reinforcements are on the way for the Auburn men's basketball team as its most high-profile signee in recent years enrolls at the university along with two other members of Coach Jeff Lebo's first full signee class at AU.

Korvotney Barber, a 6-7 McDonald's All-American from Manchester, Ga., High, has qualified academically, Lebo says, and will begin summer classes at Auburn on Monday.

A quick leaper, who averaged 20 points and 18 rebounds per game as a senior, Barber says he is looking forward to playing for the Tigers. "I really like Coach Lebo and the rest of the coaching staff," he says. "I am excited about my decision to play at Auburn. I think we are going to have success there."

Lebo says he is excited about that decision because Barber and two other incoming freshmen give his team much needed height and athletic ability. Joey Cameron, a 6-8 forward from Leeds High, also starts classes on Monday at Auburn. Josh Dollard, a 6-8 incoming freshman forward from Prince Avenue Prep in Pickens, S.C., is already on campus taking classes.

"Vot (Barber) is a guy who will probably start out at the power forward position and will work hopefully to get into small the forward position, but he is more of a power forward now," Lebo says.

Also starting classes on Monday is incoming swingman Rasheem Barrett from Marist School in Atlanta.

"I think it is a good rule that allows kids to be able to come in early and get acclimated and take a few classes without having the total pressure of having a full load," Lebo says. "They can get a comfort level at Auburn and see how things work and really start to get in the weight room and start to work a little bit and get a little taste of what it is going to be like."

The newcomers can work out on their own, play pickup games with their teams and train with the AU strength and conditioning coaches, but can't receive basketball coaching from the AU staff until fall semester classes begin in August.

Lebo says he is looking forward to working with his first full signee class in his rebuilding project at Auburn. "It is exciting," the coach says. "There is going to be a lot of learning. I kind of call it the detox stage for these young guys. They are going to have to learn how to work, be consistent and be accountable all of the time.

"They are going to have to play against other great players so they won't be the big ‘stars' of their teams anymore like they were in high school so they will have to earn their stripes. I think the summer is also a great way to get to know some of the upperclassmen who are in summer school."

Auburn signee Jarvis Hill, a 6-3 guard from Starkville, Miss., is not going to report to Auburn this summer. Lebo says the two-guard, who played last season at Mt. Christian Academy in Durham, N.C., has decided to reclassify as senior for the coming season and will likely play for a different prep school during the 2005-2006 season. Hill played at Starkville High in Mississippi where he was All-State as a junior. He transferred to Central Park Christian in Birmingham last summer, but stayed there only briefly before moving on to Mt. Zion.

Auburn point guard signee Mike Woodard will report to campus later this summer, Lebo says. The former Youngstown State and Los Angeles Southwest junior college player played his high school basketball at Creekside in the Atlanta area.

Lebo tells Inside the Auburn Tigers that Woodard, who will be a junior, should contribute immediately. He says the same is true of all the incoming freshmen. "These guys are going to have to come in and learn the ropes," he says. "They are going to take their lumps, but they are going to have to play some as freshmen.

Joey Cameron

"We have got Joey Cameron, who is going to be a forward. We may play a lot of forwards because we aren't going to have a true center on our team. I think Josh Dollard is going to play the four and three spots. With those two and Vot, all three are about the same size.

"We have Rasheem Barrett, who can play the three (small forward) and the two (shooting guard). He is 6-4 or 6-5, but he is 215 or 220 pounds. He is a man."

Manchester High coach Curtis Noble says that Barber was definitely the man for his Blue Devils. "Auburn is getting a really talented player," the coach says. "We had college coaches from all over the country calling trying to recruit Korvotney."

Noble says the Tigers are getting a quality person as well as a quality player, who is a quick leaper with plenty of potential to improve.

The Tigers also have a newcomer who will be eligible to play in December after fall semester classes are completed. Emmanuel Willis is a 6-7, 200 forward from Mendenhall, Miss., who transferred to Auburn for the spring semester. The former Southern Cal Trojan will be a redshirt sophomore this season.

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