Lebo Excited About New Signees

Comments from Auburn head men's basketball coach Jeff Lebo are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--What was expected to be a relatively quiet spring for the Auburn basketball program has been busier than expected with two players checking out and two planning to check in.

With seven-foot-one center Boubacar Sylla transferring to Wyoming after his sophomore year and 6-9 forward Matt Heramb headed to Kennesaw State following his sophomore season, Lebo is replacing those two with a junior college forward and a transfer guard.

Tony Neysmith, from Norcross, Ga., High School, has signed scholarship papers to play for the Tigers and will make the move east from the University of Oklahoma following his freshman season there.

Tony Neysmith

Francis Aihe, a 6-9 forward from Winter Park, Fla., who played the past two years at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla., is scheduled to join the Auburn program this summer.

"We are very excited about the two additions," Lebo tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.

Commenting on Neysmith, who will have three years of eligibility at Auburn starting with the 2009-2010 season, Lebo says, "He was a very highly recruited young man from Atlanta--6-5, about 205 pounds. With him, we know we are going to get a guy who is a defensive stopper.

"He can really defend--defend a lot of different positions," Lebo adds. "We will have to wait to see him perform on the court because of NCAA rules he will have to sit out a transfer for a year."

Neysmith will be able to practice with the Tigers this coming season, which will be a plus for the team, because this past year with the team down in numbers the squad had to rely on walk-ons, which the AU coach says was not an ideal situation in preparing his team for SEC opponents.

Aihe will be able to play this season and will be one of five newcomers that Lebo hopes will make a positive difference on the court for the 2008-2009 campaign.

"Francis is a young man who played for a very good program at Santa Fe," Lebo says. "He played for a very good coach. They were undefeated in their league this year. His numbers are not going to wow you, but what people don't understand is that their coach only plays those guys half the game. They platoon them in and out five at a time so he only played 20 minutes a game.

"His upside is good," Lebo adds. "He has got to get stronger. He is long, he is athletic, he can run."

Lebo was counting on Sylla to be a shot blocker in the middle of the defense last season, but injuries kept the big man sidelined for all but a couple of minutes early in the season.

Lebo says he is hoping one of his late signees can be a defensive force near the basket. "Aihe had over 100 blocks during the season so he can really alter shots," the coach notes.

Francis Aihe

"Aihe is more of a facing type of player, kind of similar to Heramb," Lebo says. "Heramb may be a little more skilled, but Aihe may be a little more aggressive, a better shot blocker, more a four man than anything. Sylla was more of a straight center. Bouba had a tough time here with the transition and also with getting healthy."

Looking at the post play for the coming season, Lebo says, "We have got Aihe coming in and Johnny Lett coming in and, of course, Korvotney Barber is going to anchor in there and play a good amount of minutes for us. He is 100 percent now with that hand and I think that is going to be big for us."

Another forward who was out of action, Josh Dollard, is scheduled to be ready for action this season after redshirting, Lebo says.

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories