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Questions for Tigers as the offseason continues

Questions for Tigers as the offseason continues

AUBURN – The SEC might run through the Yellowhammer State next season.

Auburn Basketball and Alabama, after campaigns that included an SEC Tournament title and a run to the Final Four, respectively, have reloaded their rosters this season. Other contenders like Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee may be in the picture, but none of these programs return All-Americans like the Tigers do with Johni Broome and the Crimson Tide might do with Mark Sears.

With Broome back and other players such as Chad Baker-Mazara and Denver Jones around him, expectations for coach Bruce Pearl’s eleventh season are high. However, that doesn’t mean the Tigers are bulletproof.

With offseason additions still to be made and the season opener still months away, here are a few of our biggest roster-related questions for Auburn to answer:

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Can Auburn basketball replace Jaylin Williams?

Replacing the production of All-SEC forward Jaylin Williams will be a group effort, rather than the Tigers finding a one-on-one replacement for the Georgia native, who has been with the program for five years.

Williams averaged a career-high 12.4 points last season, shooting an efficient 57.4% and hitting his 3-pointers at a rate of 39.5%. His true shooting percentage of 68.2% ranked No. 6 among players in the SEC, according to College Basketball Analytics. It was No. 1 among full-time starters. Williams also added 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 34 appearances.

Chaney Johnson will have to make do without Williams. In his lone start last season, Johnson dropped 16 points and four rebounds on 6-for-9 shooting. Doing that consistently is a tough ask, which is why Auburn is still pursuing other options at PF to complement Johnson, such as Samford transfer Achor Achor, who will visit the Tigers this week. according to Joe Tipton of On3 Sports.

Does Tahaad Pettiford even play PG?

Pearl presented his plan for incoming five-star freshman Tahaad Pettiford in March: “Get buckets.”

“Tahaad is not a point guard,” Pearl said. “He has the size of a point guard, but everyone assumed Tahaad would come in and be our point guard. That’s not the case. Tahaad is a scorer. He’s an incredible athlete. He can play on both ends of the court to play.” …But he’s not a real point guard. Can he play something? Maybe early on in his career I’m going to try to take him off the ball and let him do what he does: get. buckets.”

Auburn is still looking for a backup PG to pair with Furman transfer JP Pegues – former UTSA standout Jordan Ivy-Curry visits Thursday, according to Nathan Koning of Auburn Undercover. But what if the Tigers don’t get a backup they’re happy with? They need a body for depth, but if that player isn’t satisfactory, maybe Pettiford or Jones could get some minutes at PG.

How much of an upgrade is JP Pegues?

The SoCon, where Pegues played last season, and the SEC are not on the same level. But the transfer guard played against enough quality competition to make some comparisons.

Pegues took part in eight matches that ended as opportunities in Quadrant I or Quadrant II. His averages in those matchups were 20.4 points, 4.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 34.5 minutes, according to College Basketball Analytics. He made 39.5% of his 2-pointers and 37.3% of his 3-pointers. His assist-to-turnover ratio came in at 2.27 and his true shooting percentage finished at 59.4%.

The 6-foot-1 Pegues is tasked with being an upgrade over Auburn’s point guards from last season: Aden Holloway and Tre Donaldson. That duo had its strengths and weaknesses, but Pegues, who will be playing his fourth season, undoubtedly has more experience than either of them.

Will that experience lead to better play?

Richard Silva is the Auburn athletics beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @rich_silva18.