AU Hoops Report: Barrett On the Tigers

Another report on the first week of Auburn's preseason basketball practice is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Jeff Lebo says he is counting on players in his junior class to be leaders for the 2007-2008 basketball Tigers. One of those guys is 6-5, 220 guard Rasheem Barrett, who the coach expects to be one of the team's top scorers.

Barrett was impressive shooting the basketball on two exhibition tours in the offseason--one to China with an all-star team and the other to Mexico with his Auburn teammates.

Barrett arrived at Auburn as a freshman in 2005-2006 from Marist School in Atlanta and immediately became one of the team's top players as he averaged 11.1 points and 3.0 rebounds while hitting 39 percent of his three-pointers, 46.4 overall from the field and 75.4 percent at the foul line.

Last season he averaged an almost identical 11.0 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, but had to put up a lot more shots to get those points. Barrett hit just 29.7 percent of his threes and was just 37.8 for his overall field goal percentage. He even slumped at the foul line.

"Rasheem shot the ball real well for us in our exhibition games in Mexico and we are expecting that to continue," Lebo says. "He also shot the ball well earlier this year on his tour of China."

Barrett notes that he is looking forward to having a strong junior season. "Practice is going great so far," says Barrett as the Tigers wrapped up their first week of drills. "Since the first day, it is obvious to see we have experienced players and that is playing a major role."

The guard says that the only freshman on the team, 7-1, 275 center Boubacar Sylla, is getting a lot of feedback from his teammates to help the newcomer fit in. "Whenever he messes up, we have 14 other guys in practice to help him along," Barrett says.

Sylla, who is from Paris, France, speaks English as his third language and is still relatively new to the game of basketball. Despite those factors, Barrett says he likes what he is seeing from the big center.

"Boubacar is doing great," Barrett says. "He is a seven-footer coming to a whole new environment coming into the SEC, which is not like any other conference. The SEC is the top conference in the nation and we are trying to get him ready for the season."

Barrett notes that the players and coaches are preparing the freshman for the physical nature of the college game, particularly with the post play around the basket. "We are trying to teach him to not take it personally when he gets hit," Barrett says.

"He really has been coming along really well," the junior guard adds. "His English is kind of slow, but he is catching on quickly. He is a funny guy, a great guy. The thing about Boubacar is that he is a seven-footer who really wants to learn. When you have somebody like that, you are going to go higher and higher."

The Tigers still have plenty of practice time left before they begin the regular season on Nov. 9th at Tulane. Prior to that, the Tigers, who were 17-15 last season, will play an exhibition game at home on Nov. 1st vs. Bluefield College from Virginia.

Lebo says he wants to see the Tigers have a better second week of practices than the first week. Barrett says he expects that to happen. "Your first practices, you are going to have your mistakes and faults, but it has been pretty good and it is going to get better."

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