Johni Broome is getting used to Auburn basketball — and vice versa
Broome was one of the most effective two-way players in the country last season. He's evolving his game at Auburn — and evolving Auburn in the process.
(Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics)
During the three-game tour in Israel this summer, Bruce Pearl constantly changed things up for Auburn basketball.
Each game had a new starting lineup. The substitution patterns were focused on dividing up minutes as evenly as possible instead of a normal in-game flow. Because of that — and the vastly different opponent quality — individual performances weren’t the most consistent things in the world.
That is, except for Johni Broome.
The 6-foot-11 big man transfer from Morehead State scored 17 in Auburn’s 61-point throttling of Israel’s youth national team. Then he scored 18 against domestic league professionals a few days later. He then repeated that scoring performance and added 11 rebounds, four blocks and three steals against the best players the Holy Land had to offer in a close loss to the senior national team.
Not a bad way to debut, especially when you’re being tasked with replacing the production of National Defensive Player of the Year and NBA first-rounder Walker Kessler.
“I just want to win,” Broome said last week. “Whether that's helping out with the scoring load, rebounding the basketball, blocking shots, defending, making the extra plays — anything to help my team win.”
In two seasons at Morehead State, Broome won a lot of games. The Eagles went 46-19 over those two campaigns, and Broome went to the NCAA Tournament as a freshman. But he was unable to make a repeat Big Dance visit out of a one-bid league like the Ohio Valley Conference, and Morehead State also didn’t win a regular-season title in either of his two seasons there.
Now he’s at Auburn, which has won two SEC regular-season titles and made a Final Four run over the last five seasons under Bruce Pearl. Broome had an opportunity to return to his home state of Florida and play for former Pearl assistant Todd Golden in Gainesville. But Broome ultimately picked the Tigers over the Gators.
“I had a special time with Wendell (Green) and K.D. (Johnson),” Broome said of the official visit that made him decide to come to the Plains. “They kind of just showed me what it was like. We worked out, got in the gym — just, as a normal student-athlete, they showed me what I would do. That was good, just to see how a normal day would go.
“And last but not least, Bruce Pearl, Steven (Pearl), IB (Ira Bowman), Coach Flan (Wes Flanigan), Burgo (Mike Burgomaster) — they just showed me and family how the Auburn program and how the culture was. Family atmosphere. And they were up front with me. They didn't promise me anything. You have to work for everything you have here.”
That work is well underway, as Auburn is in the midst of its second week of official preseason practices.
And, as Broome is adjusting to life at the high-major level, Auburn is also adjusting to having a big man who is different from what it usually has in the frontcourt.
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