Auburn Basketball: Pearl Says Shamsid-Deen is Team’s Best Player


It’s early, but according to new Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl, sophomore guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen is the Tigers’ best player right now, analytically speaking.

Todd Golden has done a terrific job with analytics,” Pearl said. “I’m probably looking at more film grading and statistical analytics stuff than I ever have before. I’m pretty old school, but I love to watch film and I love to grade film. I just think it’s really objective and pretty consistently Tahj Shamsid-Deen has graded out as our best player.”

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Not K.T. Harrell, the SEC’s leading returning scorer.

Not Antoine Mason, the nation’s leading returning scorer.

Not Cinmeon Bowers, considered by multiple outlets as the best junior college transfer in the country.

“He is always in the right place at the right time defensively,” Pearl continued. “He puts up pretty good offensive numbers because he’s able to create off the bounce a little bit. He’s making shots. And I told the team that right now he’s our best player as far as how he’s performing and what we’re doing. Is that a good sign? You guys saw Tahj last year. I think he was probably Auburn’s third best player.”

Last year, Shamsid-Deen was the team’s primary point guard and his 86 assists were more than any Auburn freshman since the 2006-07 season. However, as Pearl alluded to, he is likely to play off the ball more in 2014-15.

Moving Shamsid-Deen makes sense partly because he can be counted on to score (9.5 points per game last season), and partly because there are other players that fit what what Pearl is looking for in a point guard. New Mexico State transfer K.C. Ross-Miller is the favorite to handle the position, and Malcom Canada is also better than Shamsid-Deen with the ball in his hands, according to Pearl.

Other notes from the press conference:

  • “We’re still undefeated.”
  • Malcolm Canada tweaked his ankle for the second time in the last two or three weeks yesterday, so he’ll probably miss a couple of days.”
  • “What has been happening consistently, I go to practice and I’m generally not pleased. Then I watch tape, and I’m generally surprised and it’s better than I thought. I don’t know what that means. I don’t think we’re playing as intensely, there are times when we give into fatigue, then I go back and look and it wasn’t as terrible as it looked.”
  • “It’s fun. I love going to work, leading by example, and I want to make sure my players are confident in me and they know I’m prepared based on how hard we work. I’m only going to be having fun if we win. I’m not going to be having any fun if we don’t win. We haven’t won anything yet.”
  • “For me, ball screen defense, transition defense, rebounding, offensive execution, free throw checkouts, would be some things that need tightening up based on things we’ve been exposed to. I don’t think you know until you go through it.”
  • “We haven’t determined a starter [at center] between Cinmeon and Matt [Atewe]. Cinmeon and I have talked about why we haven’t determined that situation yet. Part of it is because Matt’s a little ahead defensively and Cinmeon’s ahead offensively… they both get fouled a lot.” So what will make the difference? “Being on time and on target every day,” including off the court performance, such as class and study hall.
  • When asked about the state of the SEC, Pearl also talked a little football and mentioned that the SEC West has the four best teams in the country. Back on topic, Pearl reminded the group that the league had two of the Final Four teams from last season and he expects two or three other teams to be ranked in the top 25 this season.
  • There’s a bunch of team that are going to be fighting for being on the bubble, and I’m hoping we’re one of those teams.”
  • “Can we go from the bottom of the league to the middle of the league? You get into the middle of the league and they start talking about possibly postseason. That’s what my goals are for this team. I want to still be playing postseason. And I want that for these four seniors.”

You can see the full press conference here:

Next: Tigers Back On Top of ESPN Football Power Index

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