Lebo Loves LeMelle's Farewell Speech

Jeff Lebo says Ronny LeMelle's postgame speech following the SEC Tournament loss is something he won't forget.

Nashville, Tenn.--Soft-spoken senior Ronny LeMelle was challenged by his coach, Jeff Lebo, to step up and take the unfamiliar role as a team leader this season

Lebo says the 6-5 guard/forward, who came back for his redshirt senior year after a knee injury, won the respect of the head coach and his teammates this season and notes those players and coaches wanted to win Thursday night's SEC Tournament game for LeMelle.

"If you could have heard him in the locker room after I was done talking--and he wanted to talk to the team...it was a private conversation what he said," Lebo notes. "It was probably one of the most amazing 10 minutes I have had as a coach, listening to a young man who has grown to be a leader of this team.

"He wouldn't even say a word when I got here," Lebo notes of his only senior. "To be a leader and step out and say the things he did and stand up in front of that team for 10 minutes, when it is not really his nature to do that, I wish I had it on tape. It was probably one of the most amazing 10 minute speeches I have heard. It was very emotional.

"I hate it for him more than anything else," Lebo says of the season, which included just 12 wins and 16 losses. "Ronny is a guy who could have left and tried to come back last year and go out with the teammates he came in with, but he decided to stay and play with a whole new team, which is very difficult. I wish we had more wins for him, but I think he really set a tone for this team for leadership for the future.

Ronny LeMelle takes a shot vs. the Commodores on Thursday night. He scored in double figures for the ninth straight time.

"What he said in those 10 minutes, I will never forget as long as I live," Lebo adds. "He challenged the young guys and told them what they have to do. He talked about his experiences and what they have to do and how he was immature when he came to Auburn and what he did to mature. It was absolutely phenomenal and to hear it from a kid was really unbelievable."

Lebo notes that with 54 percent of the points on the 2005-2006 team coming from freshmen, he believes better days are on the horizon for Auburn basketball.

"I think we made progress this year," he says. "We have to be bigger and stronger next year. We just weren't good enough for this league."

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories