Lebo Likes Improving Freshman's Potential

Freshman Frankie Sullivan sparked the Tigers in his second game as a college basketball player.

Auburn, Ala.--Frankie Sullivan showed promise in his college debut with a solid performance vs. Mercer. In his second outing, as the Tigers defeated George Washington, the freshman stepped up his level of play by scoring 17 points for Coach Jeff Lebo's Tigers.

"Coach called me in a couple of days ago and he said to watch the film on the first game and he showed me what I made mistakes on on defense and offense," the six-foot-one guard from R.C. Hatch High says.

"He just told me to take it out of fifth gear and go down to third gear," Sullivan says. "I am so used to playing so fast in high school and it is a lot different because players defend you a lot better in college than they do in high school. I just took it down to the third gear and I played more comfortable."

Sullivan's good play on both offense and defense helped the basketball Tigers rally from a 44-29 halftime deficit to improve their record to 2-1 with an 83-71 victory over George Washington.

"It was a lot of fun because I got to see my teammates know what it feels like to play as a team," says Sullivan, who was a key performer on five state championship teams before arriving at Auburn. "Everybody was talking and the defense was going and momentum shifted our way, and it felt really good.

"We came back out in the second half and stopped the three-point shooting," he adds, explaining why the Tigers were able to change the momentum in the game. The freshman was on the court and made numerous big plays as the Tigers made their push to take the lead after intermission.

Sullivan contributed to Auburn's three-point attack. He hit 4-7 treys in 28 minutes off the bench. He notes that he is about 90 percent of full speed as he continues to recover from a preseason ankle injury that caused him to miss three weeks of practice, the exhibition game and the regular season opener.

"It is very tough," he says of being hurt. "I haven't been hurt since my 10th grade year when I bruised my knee and I sat out for two weeks."

However, Sullivan has tried to make the best of a difficult situation. "By me getting hurt, I learned a lot from sitting on the sidelines," he points out. "I learned my personnel, learned my teammates much better and I learned Coach Lebo, his style of play. I got the plays down in my head."

Sullivan scored seven points vs. Mercer in 23 minutes on the court and added three assists. Lebo says he likes the improvement he saw from Sullivan in the freshman's second college game. "I think he was a little more calm, a little bit more relaxed," the coach notes. "He got that first one out of the way.

"He hasn't had much practice time," Lebo points out. "Like most kids, and really Frankie is such a conscientious kid, he wants to do so well. I think you saw just a glimpse of what he can do.

"He is a winner, he's tough, he has got some leadership characteristics you like to see," Lebo adds. "This is just a start. Hopefully, he is going to make me a lot better coach, a lot smarter coach--look like I know what I am doing sometimes. He was terrific.

"I thought he made some nice passes, too, in transition," Lebo says of Sullivan, who finished the George Washington game with two assists, two steals and two turnovers. "I think the biggest thing for him that he has to learn is what a good shot is and defensively he is still working hard at getting better there.

"When he has the ball, he wants to get in fifth (gear) all of the time," Lebo adds. "We are trying to get him down to about fourth and maybe down to third when he has the ball so he can make those good decisions. He was much better. I thought he was terrific tonight."

Lebo's Tigers, who are now 2-1, return to action with a Tuesday night home game vs. Bethune-Cookman.

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