Unless something changes very late in the recruiting process, it looks like Coach Bruce Pearl’s basketball team will go into the 2021-22 schedule with 11 scholarship players, two shy of the limit.
One of the two high school signees from the early period in November, 6-4, 185 Trey Alexander from Oklahoma City, received a release from his scholarship at Auburn after the Tigers added four transfer guards — Zep Jasper from College of Charleston, K.D. Johnson from Georgia, Wendell Green from Eastern Kentucky and Desi Sills from Arkansas.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the transfer of Sills to AU didn’t work out for academic reasons and he will play for Arkansas State University in his hometown of Jonesboro. Soon after Sills announced he was headed to Auburn, Alexander decided he wasn’t going to play for the Tigers. By the time it was revealed that Sills wasn’t going to be able play for Auburn, Alexander had signed with Creighton University.
Last season, Auburn fans saw what happens when injuries hit a team hard at the guard position and it wasn’t a pretty sight. The Tigers muddled through, using wing Allen Flanigan at the point guard spot. He did an admirable job considering the circumstances, but he needs to play his natural position for what should be a strong upcoming season for the hard-working junior.
Pearl’s 2021-22 team should be solid at the guard positions, but doesn’t need a repeat of last year’s situation where two of the point guards were injured and another quit the team early in the season.
From the notebook
• Auburn’s head men’s golf coach, Nick Clinard, is fired up about his new hire. Looking to find a strong replacement for assistant Corey Maggard, who is moving to Dallas to take a great opportunity in the golf business with Titleist, it was mission accomplished when Clinard landed Chris Williams.
The former No. 1 amateur in the world, a four-time collegiate All-American for the Washington Huskies and a former pro who is considered a strong recruiter, Williams is an impressive addition. He has spent the previous two seasons doing good things for the Marquette University golf team as a coach and recruiter.
• The Auburn University 2020-21 sports year ended last weekend at the NCAA Track & Field Championships at the University of Oregon’s new state-of-the-art venue. The women’s team, which was 10th indoors, finished 26th and the men’s team did better ,taking 18th place.
As expected, AU’s top performer was Joyce Kimeli, who broke the NCAA meet record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, but unfortunately the junior was edged by a fraction of a second in a photo finish to prevent her from adding a second national title to go with her 5,000 victory during the indoor championships.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter.