Sophomore Sullivan Stepping Up for Tigers

Frankie Sullivan is stepping into a bigger role for Coach Jeff Lebo's Auburn basketball Tigers this season.

Auburn, Ala.--Frankie Sullivan was an impact player as a freshman for the Auburn basketball Tigers. This season Coach Jeff Lebo says he is expecting more out of the 6-1 guard from Uniontown.

"Frankie is doing great," points out Lebo, whose team will play its exhibition game on Friday vs. Miles College prior to opening the 2009-2010 regular season a week later vs. Niagara.

"He is as competitive of a kid as we have on the team," Lebo says. "As a sophomore he was voted captain of the team along with Lucas Hargrove so he has the respect of his teammates and his coaches.

"He is shooting the ball very well right now," Lebo says. "He is obviously well ahead of where he was as a freshman. I think the first week and a half he was playing too fast like he did when he first got here as a freshman, but he has slowed down and is making better decisions with the ball. He is a competitive kid. He is out there in practice every day working his butt off."

Lebo says that Sullivan was trying to play 100 miles per hour all of the time, but notes the Auburn coaches are working on having him play fast when that is called for, but also to change speeds when necessary to stand under control.

Sullivan notes he has been working on that part of his game this preseason. "When I am on the court I have to learn how to slow it down to 75 or to 50 on the break and make great plays," he says. "I have been keeping that in mind when I am watching film of myself."

Last season Sullivan averaged 7.6 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. He dished out 46 assists and finished the year with 37 turnovers and 39 steals. In high school he was the Class 2A Player of the Year as a senior averaging 26.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 3.6 assists as a senior for R.C. Hatch High School. He played on five state championship teams at Hatch in his six seasons on the high school varsity.

Frankie Sullivan shoots in Auburn's SEC Tournament victory over Florida last season in Tampa.

Sullivan says he likes what he is seeing from this year's Auburn team. "The guys are going really hard in practice this year," he notes. "The freshmen are looking really good. We have got some big bodies inside and we have great depth. We are looking forward to making a push toward the (NCAA) tournament."

The Tigers are trying to replace seniors Korvotney Barber and Quantez Robertson and are expected to get help from four freshmen, a sophomore junior college transfer and a pair of redshirts.

Commenting on his team's potential, Sullivan says, "It's a new team, but we have a great group coming in plus Tony Neysmith and Josh Wallace, who both redshirted last year. We have a lot of great shooters and that is great for the offense Coach Lebo wants to run."

Sullivan notes that Wallace, a walk-on point guard from Pensacola, Fla., has been impressive in practice. "I think Josh is the best defensive player on our team," he says. "If you are a guard you should love practicing against Josh because he gets you toughened up. I don't think anybody in the country can D up any better than he does."

Commenting on what he is expecting out of himself as a sophomore, Sullivan says, "The guys have put a lot of weight on my shoulders choosing me as one of the co-captains. I have to try to be a great leader."

Sullivan says having a year of experience playing in the SEC will be a major benefit this season. "It is going to help me a lot," he says. "I got a lot of experience playing with guys like Vot, Rasheem and Tez. They gave me a lot of good advice about playing the game in college."

Lebo says it is interesting that Sullivan was voted a captain by his teammates and the coaching staff. "That leadership role is not just determined by his play on the court," the coach says. "It is also about how he conducts his business off the court in the locker room and academically.

"Frankie is a guy the players have a lot of respect for and so do the coaches," Lebo adds. "I haven't had many guys who have been elected captain as a sophomore, but he is used to that coming from a high school program where he was a captain of his team and a winner. He knows all of the things that our group has to do if we are going to be a championship type of team. "

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