— AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn coach Tony Barbee thinks the Tigers have more depth and athleticism than they've had in his previous two seasons despite another offseason of attrition.
He's hoping that means the Tigers will be better able to maintain a more fast-paced style and pressing defense.
"I think we're two-deep at every position with quality players," Barbee said. "These first two years, if one of our top six or seven went down, there was a noticeable dropoff in talent, production, size, all those things, coming off the bench behind them.
"Are we there, a finished product? No, but we are deeper and more talented at each position so if we do go to the bench there won't be that noticeable of a dropoff in athleticism and length and skill level."
That could translate into another season of progress. Auburn jumped from 11 wins to 15 in Barbee's second season and won five Southeastern Conference games, one more than in his debut.
However, Barbee kicked Josh Langford, a five-game starter, and Cedrick McAfee off the team after the season.
Center Willy Kouassi and forward Bernard Morena both transferred following their freshman season.
Barbee replenished the roster with six signees, including 6-foot-5 guards Shaquille Johnson and Jordan Price, who were each regarded as among nation's top 100 prospects by at least one recruiting service. Price or fellow freshman Brian Greene Jr. could be the starting point guard.
Freshman Jordon Granger and junior college transfers Shareif Adamu and 7-footer Asauhn Dixon-Tatum bring size along with returning center Rob Chubb.
The Tigers must replace No. 2 scorer and top rebounder Kenny Gabriel, a versatile player who was also second on the team in 3-pointers.
Leading scorer Frankie Sullivan is back at shooting guard. Barbee said Sullivan was only about "85 percent" healthy last season after knee surgery but is fully recovered now.