Tahj Shamsid-Deen is flying high on his return to Auburn basketball
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Tahj Shamsid-Deen had been waiting a long time for the start of basketball practice.
The Auburn guard waited through an operation on one shoulder, then another operation on the other shoulder, and then all the rehab that followed.
"It's been a long seven months waiting for this moment."
The moment arrived Friday afternoon for Shamsid-Deen and the Auburn basketball team when they hit the court for the first official practice for the upcoming season.
Shamsid-Deen was a starter last season, playing though both his shoulders kept popping out. Finally, the problem forced him out of the season in the middle of February.
Friday, he was back.
"It's really fun playing with the new guys. We have a lot more talent, a lot deeper team than what we had last year. I can't wait to see what this final product looks like," he said.
Coach Bruce Pearl also can't wait to see as he mixes five veterans and seven newcomers among the scholarship players on the roster in his second season. The journey officially began Friday as the Tigers work their way to their regular-season opener against UAB on Nov. 13.
"I thought they played hard and I thought they competed," Pearl said after wrapping up a late afternoon practice.
What's next? Good question.
"Where are we going to go from here? I've got a nice foundation built, we're competing. How quickly can I move with seven new players? That'll be the challenge of the next month," Pearl said.
"It does seem like the court is much smaller because we're faster and much longer. Just because you get it to the rim doesn't mean it's going to be an easy one. We've got a little more defense at the rim. "
Pearl said the potential is there, even with new players.
"We're going to have some very spectacular, really high moments with this club, because they're talented enough. And I would imagine just because we're new and somewhat young, there will be times we'll be immature," he said.
Auburn returns the SEC leading rebounder in Cinmeon Bowers, who averaged 12.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game; plus starters TJ Lang and Jordon Granger.
The new players include guard T.J. Dunans, who was the No. 1-ranked junior college player; forward Horace Spencer, forward Danjel Purifoy, guard Bryce Brown and guard New Williams. Transfer point guard Kareem Canty and transfer graduate transfer Tyler Harris are ready as well.
"We have 10 or 11 guys who are good players, and there is more competition. That's just going to make these practices really intense," Pearl said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine
— AuburnPix (@AuburnPix) October 2, 2015