AUBURN, Ala. – The season might not start for another three weeks, but from Tipoff at Toomer’s to Pro Day to Bruce Pearl and members of the team going viral for their appearance on the videoboard prior to Saturday’s Georgia game, it was quite a weekend for Auburn men’s basketball.
The festivities also featured an appearance from ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg who helped introduce his longtime friend Pearl at Tipoff at Toomer’s and then got his first look at the new roster at Pro Day.
We caught up with Greenberg to get his thoughts on all things Auburn hoops.
Q: What was it like to be a part of this year’s Tipoff at Toomer’s event? You had the privilege of introducing Bruce Pearl to the crowd.
A: (Pearl) doesn’t need any introduction. He introduced me. They needed to know who the bald-headed guy was. I thought it was great. It was a great atmosphere. It was obviously a great setting to have that. It was a beautiful night. It was kind of a way to celebrate Auburn basketball, which has a reason to celebrate.
Q: What are your first impressions of this new team?
A: I love them. I literally just wrote down, ‘a team of junkyard dogs.’ They’ve got hard-playing, tough guys. The guards are undersized but physical and strong. The (Zep) Jasper kid is really impressive defensively, K.D. (Johnson) – the physicality of the perimeter guys. And then the depth and the athleticism of their frontcourt guys is a great complement.
I love what Bruce is doing in terms of getting different guys in a position to play to their strengths. They have a lot of flexibility with what they want to do, which I think is really important. Everybody wants to say ‘position-less.’ I think you take advantage of positions, and he has the ability and versatility in the offense to post anyone, attack matchups, spread the court – they’ve got enough shot-making. Defensively, they fly around the court. And there’s 100 percent buy-in, which is another thing that is so important.
Q: How about Jabari Smith? He wass the highest-rated signee in Auburn history.
A: You look at his upside, and it’s absolutely incredible. He’s 6-10, shoots it effortlessly. He’s got terrific feet. He’s engaged in everything they’re doing. His energy, his passion, the type of teammate he is, how he encourages other people – he’s not affected by his celebrity and hype. When you have a humble good player that’s also passionate and has great energy and great talent, that’s a pretty good combination.
Q: Does it ever surprise you to see what BP has done with this Auburn program?
A: No, it doesn’t. He’s a great evaluator of talent. Obviously, everyone looks at Jabari, but I look at the other guys, the other frontcourt players that were under-recruited but are developed and now really productive players. He can evaluate. He can coach. He can develop. He’s got unbridled enthusiasm, and it’s infectious. It permeates throughout the program.