Versatile Transfer Eager to Play for Auburn

Tony Neysmith has a chance to contribute at multiple positions for Coach Jef Lebo's Auburn basketball team.

Auburn, Ala.--Tony Neysmith could practice last season, but couldn't play in games for the Auburn basketball Tigers.

This season he will be a redshirt sophomore for Coach Jeff Lebo's Tigers and the six-foot-five transfer from Oklahoma is expected to play a key role for the 2009-2010 Auburn team.

"It was real hard sitting out last year, but it was pretty good being able to sit back and watch them play and do certain things," Neysmith says. "I learned a lot from our veterans. It hurt, but it was a good learning situation."

With Quantez Robertson graduated and playing pro ball in Germany this season, Neysmith has an opportunity to step into Robertson's role as a strong defender at the guard spots as well as small forward.

Lebo has hopes that Neysmith can be an immediate impact player for his team that will play an exhibition game on Friday at 7 p.m. vs. Miles College. The regular season starts a week later with an 8:30 p.m. home game vs. Niagara.

"We need to find somebody who is going to be able to do all of the little things that help you win like Quantez Robertson did for us," Lebo says. "Tez did so many things for us that didn't show up on the stat sheet. We think Tony Neysmith can supply that for us, especially on the defensive end and rebounding."

Commenting on his defensive skills, Neysmith says, "I guess it is something that I got from my dad because when he played he was a good defender. I have always been a good defender and taken pride in my defense ever since I was a little kid. When somebody scores on me I taken it personally."

His father, Horace Neysmith, was a star collegiately as a small forward at UMass where he is in that college's Hall of Fame.

Neysmith says he is eager to get back on the court in a game situation. "I just want to get out there and show people what I can do and help the team win in any way possible," he says. "I want to get out there and play hard."

The Tigers were 24-12 last season and Neysmith says he believes they can win a lot of games this season. "I think we are really deep and that is something Auburn didn't have last year or any year since Coach Lebo has been here," he says. "We have a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things and help us in different places. Our young guys are coming up real strong. We should be good all-around."

The Tigers are expected to play a more up-tempo style this season. Neysmith smiles when he discusses that subject.

"I love to play fast," he says. "I don't like to slow it down. The new system that Coach Lebo is trying to put in of really pushing the ball up the court, I really like that. I think depth is going to play a big role in us being able to do that. He wants to try to run people out of the gym because we have so much depth and so much speed."

So where does Neysmith fit in with the Tigers?

"We have DeWayne Reed who is going to be playing most of the time at the one (point guard)," Neysmith says. "Obviously, I am going to have to play multiple positions and that is something that I have been doing ever since I started playing basketball.

"I have never been a one position guy," he adds. "My true position is the point so I can play the two (shooting guard) and three (small forward). I just try to go out there and play whatever position he throws me at."

Neysmith missed some practice time last week with an ankle sprain, but notes that it isn't a serious problem. "I will be fine," he says.

The guard points out that he is working on improving his jump shot and trying to learn more about the finer points of the game.

"From three I am a good stand-still shooter, but I am more comfortable in the mid-range," he says. "That is where coach puts me because off the screens I can get to the paint a lot. He wants me to be able to shoot that mid-range jump shot. I like to pass. I like to find guys and get an assists. That is pretty much my biggest thing on offense."

Neysmith saw limited duty as a freshman at Oklahoma so this will be his first chance to see extensive action since he helped Norcross High to a Georgia state championship as a senior. "Sitting out a year has made me a lot more hungry to play so I am ready to get out there," Neysmith says.

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