Barbee Busy Recruiting and Evaluating

Auburn's newest head coach, Tony Barbee, has been extremely busy since agreeing to take over the Auburn basketball program.

Auburn, Ala.--Tony Barbee, Auburn's new head men's basketball coach, has been a moving target since accepting his new assignment last Wednesday night to lead the Tigers.

After a brief meeting with the Auburn team on Thursday afternoon and introductions around the athletic department, he met the press on Thursday evening and then attended a booster function that night.

On Friday he hit the road to recruit for the Tigers before flying to New York City to honor a previous engagement in which he had agreed to be a studio host for CBS College Sports in its analysis of the NCAA Tournament. The Final Four of that event includes the Butler Bulldogs, the team that eliminated Barbee's UTEP team from this year's event.

The coach returned to Auburn briefly on Monday before hitting the road again to visit with prospects while also doing the work preliminary work to put together a coaching staff at Auburn. Barbee has not yet announced who his assistants will be.

"I am in the process, and that is why I am in and out of town, of meeting with the signees to make sure why they chose Auburn in the first place and that is the reason why they should just stick with Auburn because it is a special place,"?he says.

"Now, that being said, there were only two players on the current team that I was familiar with," Barbee notes. "Frankie Sullivan--and I have know Frankie a long time--I recruited him to Memphis, and I have known him even longer than that when he was small, and Tony Neysmith, who is friend of mine.?His dad and I go way back. We share the same alma mater in UMass."

Tony Barbee is shown coaching for UTEP.

Barbee says it will be after the Final Four before he can get back to Auburn and conduct offseason workouts with the returning members of the Auburn team and learn more about the group and "see what we have."

He adds, "I am currently in an evaluation process, too, with the incoming signees. I have talked to all of them on the phone and I have seen some of them in person."

Former Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo committed six of the 13 scholarships a Division I men's basketball team can have to players who signed with Tigers in the early period back in November. That group includes three high school seniors, two junior college players and one player in prep school.

Auburn signed 6-7 forward Allen Payne from Winton Woods High in Cincinnati, 6-9 center Shawn Kemp Jr. from Hargrave Military Academy (prep school) in Chatham, Va., 5-11 point guard Anthony Salter from Iowa Western Junior College in Council Bluffs, Iowa, 6-8 power forward Adrian Forbes from Trinity Valley Junior College in Athens, Tex., 6-2 shooting guard Jalen Steele from Fulton High in Knoxville, Tenn., and 6-7 forward Heath Houston from Hillgrove High in Powder Springs, Ga.

If everybody returns from the 2009-2010 team and there is no losses in the signee class, there won't be room for any additional signees for the spring period in April. However, it is not unusual for attrition to take place when there is a total overhaul of a coaching staff like is taking place at Auburn.

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