#56 Auburn Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Auburn Tigers
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #56
Conference Rank: #8 SEC
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It took a couple years, but Coach Bruce Pearl has turned Auburn into a consistent threat to win the SEC. Back in 2017-18, the Tigers won a share of the SEC regular season title. A year later they went just 11-7 in SEC play, which was tied for fourth, but managed to win 30 games and reach the Final Four. Last year Auburn was well on their way to another big NCAA Tournament run after finishing 25-6 overall and tied for second in the SEC. Now Coach Pearl has to replace his top six scorers from last year. That leaves him with a very, very young team. But there is a lot of talent here and now the question is if Coach Pearl can get enough out of his inexperienced team to reach the NCAA Tournament.
2019-20 Record: 25-6, 12-6
Coach: Bruce Pearl
Coach Record: 125-76 at Auburn, 587-221 overall
Key Departed Players:
Samir Doughty, Guard, 16.7 ppg
J’Von McCormick, Guard, 11.7 ppg
Austin Wiley, Center, 10.6 ppg
Danjel Purifoy, Forward, 8.5 ppg
Isaac Okoro, Forward, 12.8 ppg
Anfernee McLemore, Forward, 6.8 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Devan Cambridge, Sophomore, Guard, 4.2 ppg
Jamal Johnson, Junior, Guard, 3.5 ppg
Allen Flanigan, Sophomore, Guard, 3.2 ppg
Jaylin Williams, Sophomore, Forward, 2.4 ppg
Babatunde Akingbola, Sophomore, Center, 0.2 ppg
Key New Players:
JT Thor, Freshman, Forward
Sharife Cooper, Freshman, Guard
Chris Moore, Freshman, Forward
Justin Powell, Freshman, Guard
Dylan Cardwell, Freshman, Center
Chandler Leopard, RS Freshman, Guard
Junior Jamal Johnson is suddenly the elder statesman on this team. The junior came in from Memphis and averaged 3.5 points per game in limited playing time during his debut campaign at Auburn. Devan Cambridge, Allen Flanigan and Jaylin Williams did not get too much of an opportunity to show what they could do as freshmen. Cambridge and Flanigan each averaged over 13 minutes per game though and Williams is a hard working forward who has the talent to see a huge step up in production as a sophomore. Even if the returning players thrive with more playing time, Coach Pearl will still need to get something out of his freshmen. That should not be a problem though. This is a very good class and Sharife Cooper and JT Thor are expected to do more than simply contribute. Cooper should take over the point guard duties from day one and Thor is an athletic power forward who will quickly become a leader in the frontcourt. Auburn will fly under the radar with such a young team, but that may not be wise. By the time SEC play rolls around, this could be a very, very dangerous Tigers team. While their talent will win some games against the tougher competition, their lack of experience could keep Auburn towards the middle of the conference standings and that will not be enough to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.0 (24th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.4 (202, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.3 (197, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.3 (80, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.1 (82, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.6 (305, 11)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.4 (287, 13)
Rebound Margin: 5.6 (31, 3)
Assists Per Game: 12.8 (201, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.9 (156, 5)
Madness 2021 NBA Draft Rankings:
#53 Sharife Cooper
Madness 2020 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#22 Sharife Cooper
#51 JT Thor
#104 Justin Powell