Small Forward, Big Questions
Allen Flanigan and Chris Moore are "neck and neck" to be the starting 3 this season. Both will play key roles — and the Tigers need improvement at the position.
SF Allen Flanigan (Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
With Auburn basketball’s opening exhibition against UAH just a week away — and the season opener against George Mason coming just 12 days from now — Bruce Pearl still has a handful of position battles on his hands.
Wendell Green Jr. appears to be the only player with a starting job nailed down at this point in the preseason. Zep Jasper and K.D. Johnson both have their advantages, on paper, as starting 2 guards or sixth men. Five-star freshman Yohan Traore is competing with senior Jaylin Williams at the 4. Impact transfer Johni Broome and experienced reserve Dylan Cardwell are still fighting for playing time at center.
And then there’s the 3, the small forward position.
There isn’t a position that’s more of a mystery than the 3, at least in terms of expected output in the 2022-23 season. Allen Flanigan missed two weeks of practice while dealing with a personal matter. During that time, the spotlight was on veteran backup Chris Moore, especially with versatile 4-star freshman Chance Westry undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
Flanigan is back at practice, but the small forward who started in 20 of his 22 games played last season isn’t locked into that top role at the moment.
“Allen and Chris, they're right there,” Pearl said at SEC Media Days last week. “They're neck and neck, and they're battling it out. One is going to start, and the other one is going to come off the bench… so they're both going to play.”
No matter who starts between Flanigan or Moore — or even if Westry or Lior Berman factor into the position — the small forward spot feels like the one that could really affect the ceiling of the Tigers’ season. It might be the position that shows just how deep and balanced Auburn really is.
And with the likes of Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler now in the NBA, the pressure is on for the 3s to improve after an underwhelming 2021-22 campaign.