Head coach Bruce Pearl has expressed his concern regarding an unexpected short bench to start off Auburn’s 2018 basketball season.
Sam Doughty, a transfer from VCU, suffered a high-ankle sprain on Tuesday. Center Austin Wiley will also miss the beginning of the season after being sidelined for two weeks due to a left-foot injury, and forward Danjel Purifoy will be out until the UAB game on Dec. 15.
Having to dig deep into the depth chart, Pearl has found solace in walk-on freshman Myles Parker.
“Myles is a very valuable practice player who now will be pushed into the regular rotation as we prepare for this week,” Pearl said.
From Madison, Alabama, Parker played at Madison Academy before playing one year at Hargrave Military Academy.
“He [Parker] had an opportunity to walk-on to some low Division I, maybe some mid Division I, out of high school or prep school," Pearl said. "Some different things took place, and the next thing you know it’s late in the summertime and he hadn’t found a home yet. In not really finding that home, we found him and he found us."
Falling to just seven scholarship players out of 13, the Tigers have not been able to run fall camp as thoroughly as Pearl would like.
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“I’ve never been faced with it this early in the season," Pearl said of the injuries. "It’s made some of the early season practicing challenging because we haven’t gone best-for-best for a few weeks because we haven’t really had 10. We’ve had eight or nine. Once you get down to seven, then it gets really difficult. It’s disrupted our fall preseason camp."
Pearl said it's been difficult for the team to see consistent improvement with having to play a limited group against only the scout team.
Parker will play either shooting guard or small forward, absorbing a lot of minutes until depth deepens. Listed at 6-foot-8 and 200 pounds, Parker embodies that of a SEC contender, according to Pearl.
“He’s a good athlete," Pearl said. "Even though he’s a walk-on freshman, he went to a prep school for a year, so he’s a little bit older. He can shoot the ball. He’s not afraid. I imagine when he’s out there, he’ll look like he belongs out there."
Ranking 11th in the AP Poll, Auburn shares the preseason Top 25 rankings with five other SEC schools. The Tigers open regular-season play against South Alabama on Nov. 6 at home.
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