OPELIKA — The 2023 Bruce, Barkley and Basketball Golf Classic took place Monday at Grand National.

Ahead of the event, both head coach Bruce Pearl and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley took time to speak with the media about various topics.

"First of all, it should be Barkley, Bruce and Basketball, not the other way around," Pearl joked.

Pearl talked about how the basketball team is coming together.

"We'll have at least four players on the floor at all times that are competent to shoot," Pearl said. "The bad news is they're all wanting to shoot it, and we're not getting inside enough. We're not getting it to the rim enough, we're not getting to the foul line enough."

One of Auburn's most exciting newcomers is former five-star point guard Aden Holloway. According to 247Sports, Holloway was the No. 16 player nationally, the No. 3 point guard and the No. 2 player in California.

"His [Holloway's] energy level was really good," Pearl said on Holloway's performance in the team's most recent scrimmage. "He can make shots, and now he's got to continue to do a better job to be a better playmaker."

Denver Jones is another addition to the team who is expected to make an impact. Jones is a guard who transferred in from Florida International and averaged 20.1 points per game last season. Pearl is optimistic about what he brings to the table.

"Denver will score," Pearl said. "He was a shooter at Florida International. I think he's become more of a scorer, but he won't average 20 here because we have greater balance and he understands that."

Barkley makes sure to be as involved as possible with the event each year.

"I always look forward to returning to Auburn," Barkley said. "Obviously, Auburn means a great deal to me. We got so many great alumni and sponsors. It's pretty cool. I look forward to this event every year."

The Auburn basketball program has been elevated to new heights under Pearl. Barkley elaborated on what it has been like to see the growth of the program.

"Well, it's amazing," Barkley said. "As much as I love Auburn and have high expectations, I never thought they would have made it to the Final Four. That changed the dynamic of the program."

Auburn will open the season against Baylor at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. on November 7 at 8 p.m. CT. ESPN will carry the broadcast.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email daniel.locke@1819news.com

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