BIRMINGHAM – Ahead of his 10th season as Auburn's head basketball coach, Bruce Pearl spoke at SEC Media Days on Wednesday afternoon.
Pearl spoke on a variety of topics including Auburn's roster, schedule and how the SEC has changed.
Pearl addressed how much growth the SEC has shown and how it has turned into one of the top conferences in college basketball.
"I'm really proud of the SEC. I'm proud of this league," Pearl said. "I remember coming in at Tennessee, obviously Kentucky was the dominant program, Billy Donovan had Florida right there. Everybody else was sort of just everybody else. Then when I came back to Auburn, the league had already begun to start to get deeper. Became greater commitments from athletic directors, fan bases. I think it started with the quality of the coaches. There are so many great coaches."
Pearl had to reconstruct Auburn's roster this offseason. With only one incoming high school prospect, he turned to the various levels of the transfer portal.
"I'm happy for my Division II players, my junior college players, my mid-major players who are hungry and feel blessed to have been able to earn the right to be able to play at the highest level," Pearl said.
Pearl mentioned previously how he was hoping to have a starting lineup in mind at this point but has not finalized it.
"I told the team last week that I was going to be letting them know this week who the starting five was," Pearl said. "I've not been asked by one player. We've got so much parity, so much competition in each position, I'm not sure they want to know, which I think is a good thing. The bad thing is when the ball gets tossed, our five guys may not be that much better than anybody else's five guys."
"But when I go to the bench, I'm not dropping off. I'm different, but I'm not dropping off. We will have a 10-man rotation. Yeah, I've got some tough decisions to make because I literally have I would say almost nine guys out of the 10 that would really anticipate that they're going to be the starter," he added.
Auburn forward Johni Broome was selected Pre-Season All-SEC. Pearl spoke on what that means for the team.
"Really glad for Johni, going back to the transfer question," Pearl said. "He's at Morehead State. He's one of the best players in that league. The question is, will it translate? Last year he was Second Team All-Conference, this year Pre-Season First Team. He answered that question. He's an old-school front-line player. "
"He looks like he could play in a men's league for the next 20 years," he continued. "Throw him the ball in a block, he's going to up, under, fake. He can use either hand. He's going to score. He's going to get fouled. We're going to go through him. People are going to double-team him so he's going to have to kick it out a little bit. He's got some maturity. Worked at his game."
Auburn will play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the history of the program this year. Pearl elaborated on what went into that decision.
"With the league being where it's at, how do I stay relevant?" Pearl said. "How do I keep Auburn basketball relevant in this incredible league? I have to play Baylor and South Dakota, put it on ESPN, let my kids have a chance."
Auburn will open up the season against the Baylor Bears on November 7 at Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CT, and ESPN will carry the broadcast.
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