By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala - While many high-school hoop stars earned their reputations by shooting, dribbling, driving or dunking, Auburn freshman Anfernee McLemore made his mark on defense.
“That I was a real factor at the defensive end,” McLemore says. “And once I got in the game, I did not let my man score on me consistently. I want to be a person who got stops, because I pride myself on not letting my man score.”
Fellow freshmen Mustapha Heron and Jared Harper bring advanced offensive games to the Plains. McLemore’s contribution, at least initially, could come at the other end of the court.
“I feel like I bring a defensive presence to the team,” he says. “I’m developing offensively. I wasn’t recruited as an offensive threat, but as I develop that, I’ll be more aggressive and become a better offensive player.”
Under the direction of strength coach Damon Davis, McLemore has already gained 15 pounds since arriving at Auburn this summer. He wants to add 15 more pounds of muscle, figuring an ideal playing weight of 225 will help withstand the physicality of the SEC.
“Getting into the weight room and getting my body right so I can play at this level,” says McLemore, a 6-foot-7 forward from Warwick in Worth County, Ga.
With a 4.0 grade-point average in high school, McLemore earned many attractive college offers, both athletically and academically.
“Coach (Bruce) Pearl made a good argument for Auburn. Coach (Chuck) Person, I saw how his players develop under him, how much better they got, even the transfers from other colleges when they got here. I liked how I would fit in, in his program,” he says.
McLemore projected his own development in Auburn’s program by studying a future teammate.
“Horace Spencer, I believe he plays a lot like I do,” McLemore says. “I saw how he played. He fits in pretty well, so I thought it would be a good fit for me, also."
Studying data. Crunching the numbers. Making projections. Tactics that come naturally for an accounting major, who has mastered the art of managing basketball and books.
“It’s about a balance between the two,” McLemore says. “Once you find that you can do both, you cut out some of the things that are not as important, so you get your priorities straight. It’s pretty easy. So you spend a little more time studying, a little more time in the gym, less time hanging out with friends or socializing at the movie theater, and get a good balance.”
McLemore’s transition to college life has been tranquil. The adjustment to college basketball, he hopes, will be equally smooth.
“Oh, I love it. It’s a great experience. Being around the coaching staff. Being around the fans. I just can’t wait until the season starts. I’ve been working hard in the weight room, and on the floor, and I’m just ready for the season.”
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer