Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl had his work cut out for him this offseason when it came to rebuilding the roster. The Tigers welcomed in nine new players over the offseason, including walk-ons.
Pearl hit the transfer portal and came up big. His biggest find in the portal was arguably Denver Jones, a 6-foot-4 guard from FIU. Jones averaged 20.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and two assists per game last season.
Jones has adjusted well to Auburn and is enjoying being a part of the team.
"Everyone around here is so nice," Jones said. "Our people when I came on my official visit in April, our people when I got here for summer workouts and being around the community. It's been a great feeling meeting everyone."
The transition from FIU to Auburn was and will continue to be an adjustment for Jones. He described what the process has been like so far.
"The first thing I noticed in my first few weeks here is how hard we go," Jones said. "The level of workouts is way different than where I was at previously. The first couple of weeks my body was breaking down and I had to get into the cold tub a few times a week. When it comes to basketball, playing under Bruce is different but everything else is really just the same."
Pearl has gained a reputation for being a coach who puts players in the NBA. This has made him a coach that a lot of high-quality players want to play for. Jones elaborated on what it has been like to play for one of the most respected coaches in the game.
"He (Pearl) has been instilling confidence in me since I got here," Jones said. "I'll take Bruce any day over any coach. He is probably my favorite coach ever."
Jones is a native of New Market, which is just north of Huntsville. He spoke about having the opportunity to represent a program from his home state.
"To be honest, I never thought I'd be back playing in my home state," Jones said. "It's a relief, but I'm excited as well because I get to play in front of my friends that haven't really seen me play and my family."
Auburn basketball posted a video on social media in August of Jones hitting 21-straight three-pointers in less than a minute. The video generated a lot of excitement from Auburn fans after the team has consistently struggled from beyond the arch over the past few seasons.
"I do more than shoot but that is the main thing," Jones said. "When I'm shooting, I try to focus on muscle memory. I try to stay locked in the whole entire time."
Jones was highly pursued in the portal this offseason. One of the programs Auburn was able to beat out in the process of landing Jones was Alabama. Jones talked about what made Auburn stand out.
"Really, the culture here," Jones said. "The connection I have with the coaching staff. The connection I've built with Bruce (Pearl). He (Pearl) is a great man, a very spiritual man."
Auburn is looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight season, and Jones will help make that possible.
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