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11/15/22 Basketball Articles


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Dylan Cardwell’s rim protection a ‘factor’ for No. 13 Auburn early this season

Updated: Nov. 15, 2022, 8:38 a.m.|Published: Nov. 15, 2022, 7:00 a.m.
6-7 minutes

Dylan Cardwell had jokes Monday afternoon in the suites at Neville Arena.

Auburn’s backup center was asked about his prowess defending the rim early this season—10 blocks through the Tigers’ first two games—and he couldn’t help but crack a joke with one of his point guards, Tre Donaldson, sitting at his side.

“My guards getting driven by helps a whole lot,” Cardwell said, trying to keep a straight face. “The fact that we can stay in front of nobody, it feels good to block some shots.”

Read more Auburn basketball: Auburn signs four-star 2022 point guard Aden Holloway

Bruce Pearl: ‘There’s a chance’ freshman Chance Westry debuts vs. Winthrop

Auburn basketball moves up in AP poll after opening week

Cardwell was jesting, of course, but the 6-foot-11 center’s defense at the rim early this season has been no laughing matter. Cardwell has provided a defensive spark off the bench for Auburn through its first week of action, and he’ll look to maintain it Tuesday when No. 13 Auburn (2-0) hosts Winthrop (2-1) at Neville Arena for a 6 p.m. tip on SEC Network.

It’s early yet this season, but Cardwell has carved out a spot as one of the top rim protectors in college hoops through one week of games. His 10 blocks are tied for second-most in the nation, trailing only Oral Roberts’ Connor Vanover (14 blocked shots) and tied with USC’s Joshua Morgan.

Cardwell’s block percentage of 29.8 percent would be tops in the nation — ahead of Vanover’s 23.8 percent and Mogan’s 20.3 percent — if he played enough minutes to qualify. But Cardwell has done his damage on the defensive end coming off the bench for Auburn while averaging 16 minutes per game. As such, his per-40-minute (12.5 blocks) and per-100-possession (17.6 blocks) numbers are eye-popping so far.

“He and I talked a little bit about his conditioning, his rest,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said last week. “Just because — look, for a man his size, he moves about as good as anybody his size. Period. In college basketball. He really does. And so that’s the key to his effectiveness. He’s been really good to coach. He’s very accountable. I got on him a couple times pretty hard, but he knows how to take it. But it’s very important that Dylan brings that physicality.”

It has been welcome for Auburn through two games, especially as starting center Johni Broome has battled through a lingering ankle injury. Broome’s effectiveness has been hampered by the ankle, and while he was moving a little better during Sunday’s practice, it remains to be seen how long it takes for him to get full speed. That has made Cardwell’s effectiveness off the bench even more crucial to Auburn’s early success: He has stepped up, particularly defensively, and provided relief for Broome, who was the OVC Defensive Player of the Year last season at Morehead State.

“Me and Dylan go at it every day in practice,” Broome said. “So, I know what he’s about. He’s a monster. He’s physical. He’s strong. You know what I’m saying? He got all the moves around the basket. His defense is amazing. You know he’s a monster. We’re a very good duo together.”

Essentially, Auburn hasn’t lost a step at center when Broome checks out and Cardwell comes in. Along with his five blocks per game, Cardwell has made all three of his shot attempts this season while averaging 4.5 points and 5.5 blocks per game. He has also posted a 71.1 defensive rating, which leads the team and is just ahead of Broome’s 71.4.

As Pearl put it after the win against USF, Cardwell has been “a factor” so far this season.

The 6-foot-11 big man has taken a considerable step forward as a junior, with Pearl at one point this summer calling him the Tigers’ most improved player. He benefited from an offseason of physical development, as well as from spending last season learning behind Walker Kessler, last year’s national Defensive Player of the Year who also spent time training on the Plains this offseason ahead of his rookie year in the NBA.

“I learned a lot,” Cardwell said. “I learned when not to jump and I learned when to jump. He made a lot of nonbusiness decisions, but he didn’t get dunked on that many times. He had no fear when jumping. I’ve got a little bit, I second guess. If somebody is already up, I’m not going to jump late, but that’s something I did learn, just to jump with no fear. If you get dunked on, you’re still going to get drafted one day. You get put on Bleacher Report or something, but it’s not the end of the world. He was a fearless jumper, and he still is.”

Cardwell has tried to inherit that same mindset from Kessler, who led the nation in total blocks (155), block percentage (19.1 percent) and defensive box plus/minus (8.0), was tied for most blocks per game (4.6) and finished with the third-highest defensive rating (83.0) in the country last season.

“I feel like that’s my biggest improvement as far as defense goes, not jumping at every single pump fake and staying on the ground and being taken off the floor,” Cardwell said. “That’s something the coaches have been preaching this year, in nonconference especially, is staying on the floor and being second, because I’m so much bigger and more athletic than all the other people in the play, just not getting in foul trouble, not picking up stupid fouls. Just working on the timing and stuff this year has been a very big focal point for me.”

No joke, it has paid off for Cardwell in an already-expanded role for Auburn this season.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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Elite 2023 point guard Aden Holloway signs with Auburn

Updated: Nov. 14, 2022, 3:40 p.m.|Published: Nov. 14, 2022, 3:38 p.m.
3 minutes

  1. Auburn Basketball

Auburn men’s basketball signs top-5 PG to 2023 recruiting class

Aden Holloway

La Lumiere's Aden Holloway (2) in action against Arizona Compass Prep during a high school basketball game at the Hoophall Classic, Sunday, January 16, 2022, in Springfield, MA. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)AP

A future Auburn guard was recognized by the Tigers on Monday. Aden Holloway, a four-star recruit and Auburn’s lone commit in the 2023 class, signed his national letter of intent.

Holloway is the No. 28 prospect in 247Sports Composite rankings and the fifth-best point guard. The Charlotte, North Carolina native is listed at 6-foot, 155 pounds with his best skill being his shot. In the Nike EYBL circuit with Team CP3, he posted a 35% clip from 3-point range, averaging 16.2 points and 5.0 assists.

“Auburn has become a place where fast, quick, creative guards have flourished. Aden is a special winner. He has a high basketball IQ and the unique ability to create for himself and others. People just love playing with him,” head coach Bruce Pearl said in a statement.

Holloway averaged 21.9 points as a junior at Matthews (N.C.) Covenant Day. He committed to the Plains in August and will spend his senior year at California’s Prolific Prep in Napa.

247Sports director of scouting Adam Finkelstein has raved about Holloway’s tendency to spread out a defense while noting he has to improve as a decision-maker at the point guard position.

Holloway has the Tigers’ class ranked 58th nationwide, a year after having the 15th overall class with two of the highest-rated additions in program history: Yohan Traore and Chance Westry. Holloway is unlikely to be the lone signee on Pearl’s roster by the time the 2023 season tips off.

Auburn is currently 2-0 with wins over George Mason and USF. The Tigers will host Winthrop on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

More Tigers hoops: Auburn basketball moves up in AP poll after opening week

Pearl: ‘There’s a chance’ freshman Chance Westry debuts vs. Winthrop

Nick Alvarez is a reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @nick_a_alvarez or email him at NAlvarez@al.com.

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Bruce Pearl updates injury status of two Tigers ahead of Winthrop game

Taylor Jones
2 minutes

The No. 15 Auburn Tigers could be at full strength for the first time all season when they take the floor against Winthrop on Tuesday night at Neville Arena.

Head coach Bruce Pearl said Monday that there is a chance that injured players Johni Broome and Chance Westry could be back in the rotation in time for the Tigers’ next game.

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Broome, who has played in both of the Tigers’ games to this point, has been dealing with ankle issues lately. So much so, that he was considered questionable for the Winthrop game as of Monday afternoon. Pearl said Monday that Broome was “more active” Sunday, but was still dealing with complications.

Broome could not follow up his 12-point season-opening performance on Friday in Auburn’s win over South Florida, as he scored just three points and went 0-for-6 from the field.

The biggest news is that in the case of freshman guard Chance Westry. Westry, who infamously underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last month alongside his head coach, could play as much as 10-15 minutes on Tuesday according to Pearl.

Westry made quite the impression on Pearl and Auburn fans during the Tigers’ Israel expedition in August by averaging 10.3 points per contest in three games. He was a four-star rated guard out of Compass Prep in Chandler, Arizona, and was the No. 44 overall player for the 2022 cycle according to 247Sports.

Auburn hits the floor Tuesday night against Winthrop in a non-bracket contest of the Cancun Challenge. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside Neville Arena.

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How to watch the Auburn basketball game vs Winthrop

Zac Blackerby
2-3 minutes

The Auburn basketball team will look to remain undefeated and improve to 3-0 with a win over Winthrop Tuesday night. 

Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers will work on improving the perimeter game over the course of the season and take advantage of their homestand in Neville Arena to start the season. 

Winthrop is picked to finish second in the preseason Big South Conference Poll. 

Tuesday’s game against the Winthrop Eagles is a non-bracketed game of the 2022 Cancun Challenge. Next week, the Tigers will play in the Riviera Division (Bradley, Liberty, and Northwestern), while Winthrop is in the Mayan Division (Purdue Fort Wayne, Eastern Michigan, and Southern Miss).

Auburn leads the all-time series with Winthrop 5-1. The most recent meeting was on Nov. 24, 2017, in Auburn with the Tigers securing a 119-85 victory. It tied as the most points squared by an Auburn squad in the Bruce Pearl Era next to 119 versus Northwestern State on Nov. 27, 2015.

How to watch the Auburn basketball game vs Winthrop

The Auburn basketball game vs Winthrop will tip off at 6:00 pm CT on the SEC Network. Tom Hart and Daymeon Fishback will have the call. 

The radio call can be heard on the Auburn Sports Network. Andy Burcham, Sonny Smith, and Brad Law will be all over the action. 

Fun fact

This is from a release from Auburn: Winthrop Head Coach Mark Prosser is one of two head coaches the Tigers will face in the non-conference, whose father also coached in either the collegiate or professional ranks. Prosser’s father Skip was a legendary coach at Xavier (1994-2001) and Wake Forest (2001-07). Northwestern (possible opponent at the Cancun Challenge) Head Coach Chris Collins’ father Doug, was the head coach for the Chicago Bulls (1986-1989), Detroit Pistons (1995-98), Washington Wizards (2001-03) and Philadelphia 76ers (2010-13).

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Bruce Pearl: ‘There’s a chance’ freshman Chance Westry debuts vs. Winthrop

Updated: Nov. 14, 2022, 2:39 p.m.|Published: Nov. 14, 2022, 1:52 p.m.
3 minutes

Chance Westry

Auburn freshman Chance Westry is being asked to learn three positions in Bruce Pearl's system ahead of the 2022-23 season. (Tom Green/tgreen@al.com)

Auburn freshman Chance Westry’s college debut could be on the horizon.

Westry has been working his way back from a preseason knee procedure and has yet to see the court in Auburn’s first two games of the season. That could change Tuesday when No. 13 Auburn (2-0) hosts Winthrop at Neville Arena for a 6 p.m. matchup.

Read more Auburn basketball: Auburn moves up in AP poll after opening week of season

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“There’s a chance Chance will play some,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said Monday. “...We don’t want to rush him, but there’s a chance he could play tomorrow.”

Westry has been inching his way toward a return, going full-speed in practices last week and even participating in early warmups before Friday’s comeback win against South Florida. If Westry is available against Winthrop, Pearl said the Tigers will ease him into things, and he may be limited to 10-15 minutes in his debut.

Westry underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his knee in early October -- the same day Pearl underwent a similar procedure -- with a timeline of three to four weeks expected for his return. It has taken a little longer, but the versatile 6-foot-6 guard/wing is close to making his debut. A former four-star prospect, Westry as rated as the No. 38 player in the 2022 class. He was rated as the No. 12 small forward in the country and was the second-highest rated signee in the Tigers’ class, behind five-star combo forward Yohan Traore.

“It means a lot,” center Dylan Cardwell of Westry’s imminent return. “You know, Chance picked us up a lot on defense in Israel. I love his hard work ethic and stuff like that. I’m excited to see him play in front of the Jungle.... He deserves it, man. I’m excited for him. I’m praying he has a great rest of the season.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation.

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Holloway Continues Five-Star Recruiting Pipeline to the Plains

Auburn University Athletics
2 minutes

AUBURN, Ala. – Aden Holloway signed his National Letter of Intent to play for Auburn Men's Basketball on Monday, continuing Head Coach Bruce Pearl and his staff's five-star recruiting pipeline to the Plains.

  The Tigers have consistently nabbed top-rated talent on the recruiting trail including NBA Lottery picks in the 2019 and 2021 classes, three ESPN 100 prospects in the 2020 class and two ESPN 100 prospects in the 2022 class.

  The 6-foot-1, 165-pound point guard currently attends Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif. He is ranked No. 21 overall in the Class of 2023 by ESPN and No. 33 overall by Rivals.

  "Auburn has become a place where fast, quick, creative guards have flourished," Pearl said. "Aden is a special winner. He has a high basketball IQ and the unique ability to create for himself and others. People just love playing with him."

  Originally from Charlotte, N.C., Holloway started his playing career at Matthews (N.C.) Covenant Day School, before transferring to La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind. During his sophomore season at Covenant Day, he averaged 21.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.3 steals per game.

  He also played summer basketball with Team CP3 on the EYBL, where he averaged 16.2 points, 5.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds per contest, while shooting 41 percent from the field and 35 percent from behind the 3-point arc.

  Holloway attended this year's Pangos All-American Camp, NBPA Top 100 Camp, CP3 Elite Guard Camp and USA Basketball October Junior National Team Minicamp.

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