Freshman Forward Shows Early Promise

Auburn forward Rasheem Barrett and the basketball Tigers open the regular season on Sunday.

Auburn, Ala.--Jeff Lebo says he is encouraged by what he has seen from freshman forward Rasheem Barrett as the Tigers prepare to open the 2005-2006 basketball season on Sunday vs. David Lipscomb.

The 6-5, 220-pounder out of Marist High in Atlanta played well as a reserve in Auburn's 74-54 exhibition victory on Monday night vs. West Alabama.

Barrett came off the bench in the first half and scored nine points and grabbed three rebounds in nine minutes of court time. He finished the night with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and just one turnover in 23 minutes of action.

Lebo says that Barrett can handle the two (big guard) and three (small forward) spots for the Tigers. "He can play both positions," the Auburn coach notes. "He has got a body. If we have to go small he can even play a little bit at the four because he can drive the ball to the basket. He has a nice stop and pop game. He can consistently make threes for us. I thought he gave us a nice lift coming off the bench for us in the first half."

Barrett says he enjoyed the exhibition, but notes that the Tigers are a long way from being a polished basketball team. Personally, the freshman says he is working on several aspects of his play.

"Mainly, I am working on my three-point shot," he says. "When I came in, it needed a little work, but working with the coaches, I got it back on. I have also been working on my dribbling and my defensive stance."

Barrett says it doesn't make any difference whether he is playing guard or forward when he is in the game. "With this offense it really doesn't matter. Playing two or three is really the same thing."

Rasheem Barrett takes a shot in Monday night's exhibition.

Lebo says that he believes that Barrett is improving and will continue to do that. "He is a good offensive rebounder," the coach says. "Rasheem played for a very good high school coach. He is able to pick up things pretty quickly. With his body, he can defend when he wants to defend, too.

"The biggest thing for him is really getting into shape, great shape. He has come a long way in a short period of time as all of the freshmen have. You should have seen him when I first got him. He couldn't run up and down the court twice and then he would puke."

Although not as heralded as some of the other recruits, Barrett looks like he is one of the better newcomers on a team loaded with newcomers.

"He is the one not a lot of people have talked about," Lebo says. "He is a kid who we got a commitment from early that really does some nice things for us. I have been really impressed with him from day one, really on the defensive end more than anything.

"In the last week, he has been playing offense much better. He has been shooting the ball much better. He has been taking better shots in practice. The other day in the scrimmage he scored a bunch and in the game he made open shots. I think if he can do that he can really help our team.

"For a freshman, he doesn't have a freshman look about him," Lebo adds. "He can take a hit. He is not going to back down to anybody. That is a big thing at this level."

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