The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 2, 2014

Auburn's Pearl courting alums for assistants

(Continued)

The head coach remains barred from recruiting by the NCAA until Aug. 24 for misdeeds during his tenure at Tennessee. He was fired in 2011 and placed under a show cause penalty after lying to investigators about violations involving a cookout at his home for junior prospects and their families.

Auburn had 30 days from his hiring to contest or accept the sanctions before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions.

"We are definitely going to go through the process of finding out what that looks like from the NCAA's standpoint," Pearl said.

In the meantime, he said he can't so much as reach out to the two players who signed with then-coach Tony Barbee in the fall.

"As of right now, if a prospect visited campus today I could have no contact with them," Pearl said. "There are probably high school coaches out there that wonder why I haven't called about their top sophomore. I just can't make that call right now, so my staff will and then they'll offer their apologies for me."

Auburn has two scholarships available, and Pearl didn't rule out a senior transfer who could play immediately.

The Tigers return only two players — guards KT Harrell and Tahj Shamsid-Deen — who averaged more than three points a game last season.

Pearl runs down the strengths of all eight returning players and areas for improvement, but the shooter Harrell and point guard Shamsid-Deen are clearly his top players coming back.

Pearl has a good idea of the roster he has to work with now.

"The biggest thing we're trying to do is help them improve," he said.

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