Bruce Pearl will be starting his fourth different point guard for the fourth year in a row when Auburn tips off its season in November.
After Jared Harper in 2018-2019, J’Von McCormick in 2019-2020 and Sharife Cooper in 2020-2021, Pearl will be moving on to transfers Zep Jasper and Wendell Green Jr. to take the role of point guard for the Tigers.
“One of the things that is worth stating is that they're gonna play together,” Pearl said. “Which you would think ‘well, because they're your two point guards, how's that possible?’ It's going to be challenging but I think of it together much like J’Von McCormick and Jared Harper played so together.”
Green Jr., a sophomore transfer from Eastern Kentucky, is the more traditional point guard of the two. The Detroit native averaged nearly 16 points per game, five assists, 3.4 rebounds and shot 40 percent from the field last season. Pearl complimented Green Jr. on Tuesday, for both his ability to shoot and how he grew up playing against tough competition.
“Wendell can really shoot it,” Pearl said. "Wendell’s not afraid of the moment. Wendell’s offense is ahead of his defense.
“Since he was a little boy, he's been playing with and against great players. He's been on really good high school teams, really good AAU teams. He's played with and against pros. And then when it was time to go to college, nobody thought he was good enough or big enough.”
Green Jr. ended up at Eastern Kentucky after high school and entered the transfer portal after his first season. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound point guard is a bit undersized for the position; however, Pearl and the Tigers have a history of making that work.
“When it was time to go to college, nobody thought he was good enough or big enough,” Pearl said. “And that's why he winds up at Eastern Kentucky.”
Jasper is a transfer from the College of Charleston, where the 6-foot-1, 185-pound point guard started all 19 games for the Cougars. The Augusta, Georgia native averaged 16.6 points per game, 2.6 assists per game and shot 43.7 percent from the field in 2020-2021.
“They can both shoot it, which I think is good in our system,” Pearl said. “Zep, though, is a dynamic defender.”
Jasper was nicknamed “Honey Badger” for his on-ball defense, generating 67 career steals. Last year, he had a steal in 11 of the 19 games.
“He can really get after you not only individually himself, but he makes everybody else out there defensively better,” Pearl said. “He's a little bigger He's a little bit more physical.”
The Tigers have a few exhibition games to figure out the starting roles before the season begins on Nov. 9 against Morehead State.
“Wendell is a pure shooting point guard,” Pearl said. “Zep is more of a combo guard guy that can play off the ball just as well as he can play with the ball.”