Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series. Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.
We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
As if another losing season wasn’t enough for the Auburn Tigers to deal with, the basketball program had one of their players, Varez Ward, investigated by the FBI for a point shaving allegation. On top of that, Tony Barbee had to dismiss two other players and lost two more to transfer.
Last season: T-10th, 5-11 in SEC, 15-16 overall
Projected SEC Finish: 11th
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Rob Chubb (Sr)/Asauhn Dixon-Tatum (Jr)
F: Allen Payne (Jr)/Sharief Adamu (Jr)/Jordan Granger (Fr)
G/F: Shaquille Johnson (Fr)/Noel Johnson (Sr)
G: Jordan Price (Fr)/Chris Denson (Jr)/Brian Greene (Fr)
PG: Frankie Sullivan (Sr)/Josh Wallace (Sr)
Gone: PF-Ken Gabriel, PF-Adrian Forbes, G-Tony Neysmith, PG-Varez Ward (dismissed), SF-Josh Langford (dismissed), C-Willy Kouassi (transfer-Kennesaw State), PF-Bernard Morena (transfer-Kennesaw State), SG-Cedrick McAfee (dismissed)
While Auburn returns some key players from last season, there isn’t a ton of talent in that group. Frankie Sullivan returned from injury to lead the team in scoring a year ago but averaged just 12.8 points per game. He will probably play some more point guard this season and provide experience in the backcourt along with Josh Wallace who is likely the team’s best distributor and Chris Denson who can bring some scoring punch off the bench.
The experience of that trio is nice but it’s the talent of three freshmen wing players that will be interesting to watch this season. Jordan Price is the cream of the Tigers’ incoming class due to his strength which allows his to score in a variety of ways including a solid three-point shot. Shaquille Johnson is an explosive athlete who thrives off the bounce and could become the team’s top perimeter defender.
Like Price, Brian Greene is another physical off guard who can score it from all over. Price and Johnson could end up starting right away while Greene might see quality minutes off the bench depending on what happens with suspended wing Noel Johnson who really struggled last season after transferring in from Clemson.
Barbee should get a boost from another transfer next season with the arrival of KT Harrell. He averaged 7.1 points per game in one semester with the Cavs a year ago but decided to leave and play somewhere closer to home. Harrell will be able to practice with the team this year but must sit out of games per NCAA transfer rules. He will have two years of eligibility remaining in the beginning of the 2013-14 season.
Up-front, the Tigers aren’t going to intimidate anybody. Rob Chubb is a solid contributor but far from a skilled low post threat. Allen Payne is undersized at 6-6 and struggled scoring the basketball last season but did make a solid impact on the glass. Those two returners will be pushed for playing time by JUCO transfers Asauhn Dixon-Tatum and Sharief Adamu.
Dixon-Tatum lacks physicality and strength down low but makes up for that with his length and shot blocking abilities. Adamu originally began his college career at Alabama State and will add more toughness at the four than Payne can bring to the floor. Freshman Jordan Granger will also try to work his way into the rotation.
With eight players gone from a year ago and seven new Tigers entering the mix, it’s another year of turnover for Barbee. That will likely result in another long season as Auburn’s basketball program remains the deeply behind the gigantic shadow cast by Tiger football.
Player to Watch: Jordan Price
At 6-5, 220 pounds, Price has great size for a college shooting guard. He able to overpower defenders with his strength but also has a smooth mid-range game. Auburn doesn’t really return a true scorer so Price should get plenty of opportunity and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he leads this team in scoring.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/15 vs. Murray State (Charleston Classic)
11/16 vs. St. John’s/Charleston (Charleston Classic)
11/18 vs. Baylor/Boston College/Colorado/Dayton (Charleston Classic)
11/30 vs. DePaul (Big East/SEC Challenge)
TBD at Boston College
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)