The Stretch 4: What we saw and heard at Auburn basketball's Pro Day scrimmage
Here are the stats and standouts from the Tigers' hard-fought, 20-minute scrimmage in front of reps from all but two NBA teams.
C Johni Broome (Steven Leonard/Auburn Tigers)
Bruce Pearl knew exactly what he wanted to see from his team Thursday afternoon.
Auburn basketball’s annual Pro Day welcomed representatives from all but two NBA teams, who watched the Tigers go through several drills before a scrimmage made up of two 10-minute periods.
“I hope we shoot the lights out,” Pearl said. “I hope the offense is better than the defense, which it's been so far this year.”
The shooting numbers weren’t exactly the red-hot ones from the Tigers’ first scrimmage earlier this month, but they were still quite respectable in the offensive department.
Unofficially, the two squads combined to shoot 42.4% from the field, including a 37% mark from 3-point range and 79.2% from the free-throw line.
The final score: 39-38, with the scrimmage coming down to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Denver Jones that just missed the mark.
Here were the final unofficial stats from the scrimmage, which were a combined team effort between five Auburn beat writers sitting in the stands at Neville Arena:
Note: The original screenshot failed to include Dylan Cardwell coming up with 5 defensive rebounds, 4 offensive rebounds and 2 steals — a copy-and-paste failure on my part.
Normally, those of us who watch Auburn basketball practices can’t report details of what we saw — a fair trade, in this writer’s opinion, because Pearl is one of the few college coaches in the country who allows access to every single practice. But Pearl allowed us to share our stats from this scrimmage.
In this edition of The Stretch 4, let’s go through some Pro Day Observations, along with a few takeaways from what else we saw and heard from Pearl and Johni Broome in the Arena on Thursday afternoon.
Johni Broome shines again in front of NBA scouts
Broome set the tone for Auburn on Pro Day with his play, but he also was the player representative to talk to the media before the practice even began.
The offseason has been a whirlwind for Broome, who went from G League camp prospect to a surprise NBA Combine invitee. After getting feedback from the league, he decided to come back for his fourth season of college basketball — and there’s a good chance he’ll be named preseason first-team All-SEC next week.
Broome’s sweet shooting shouldn’t be a total surprise, as he picked up on that area of his game late last season before showcasing it a lot more in the draft process. The 6-foot-10 big man isn’t hesitating to fire away from deep, naturally pulling in an offense that will be more built to play with five-out at times this season.
“I worked on my jumper last year a lot,” Broome said. “This year, during the offseason, I feel like I worked so much harder and feel like I stepped my work ethic up another little step. I feel like I'm really confident in my shot — and my coaches are and my teammates are, too.”
An example of that was K.D. Johnson screaming at Broome to keep shooting after he hit his second 3-pointer of the scrimmage. (He did, and he made it.)
For Auburn, Broome’s rising confidence from beyond the arc creates an interesting situation. The Tigers’ offense is better when all five guys can score from deep, but a shot like that also takes its best rebounder and inside scorer away from the basket.
“Every time he takes a shot on the perimeter and doesn't make it, he's also not in there rebounding,” Pearl said. “There's a fine line there, and a lot of it's going to wind up being his percentages. He needs to be above a 30% 3-point shooter, probably more above like a 33% 3-point shooter, to feel like he's got the green light.
“He's really close, and he'll have practices where he'll make four, five in a row, which is great. But he's also so good around the basket.”
Broome said he needed to focus on “playing with a higher motor” this season, and he showed that in the scrimmage with all of his hard work on the glass.
And, as he eyes a potential future in the professional ranks, Pearl wants to see his top center move like someone who can be more than just an around-the-rim presence.
“I always want Johni to play faster, to play quicker and to be more effective defensively,” Pearl said. “Walker Kessler had the same issue. I said, 'Walker, stop playing like you're 7-1.' He's like, 'Coach, but I am 7-1.' What I mean is, play like a basketball player. And Walker can move like he's 6-6.
“Johni sometimes plays like he's 6-10, and he needs to try to move like he's 6-5.”
SG Denver Jones (Steven Leonard/Auburn Tigers)
Denver Jones is much more than just a shooter
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