AUBURN, Ala. (WHNT) — It didn’t take Bruce Pearl long to figure it out.
The 10th-year Tigers head coach only needed summer workouts and a couple of weeks of preseason practices to see what kind of player he got in the transfer portal this spring.
Denver Jones, a New Market native, transferred to Auburn after playing two seasons at Florida International University and is now gearing up for his first season in the SEC, one that Pearl believes could go very well.
“Denver Jones is a very versatile player. He can do it at both ends of the floor, he can do it off the bounce, at the foul line, from three, play make,” said Pearl. “He is a really really solid combo guard that’s got a chance to be one of our better players.”
Jones was rated as the 26th-best player in the transfer portal and is one of four transfers that Bruce Pearl brought into the program in the offseason.
The offseason addition of Jones filled two major needs for the Tigers, an experienced guard and a three-point shooter.
Auburn thinned at out the guard position following last season after Wendell Green Jr. declared for the NBA draft, Zep Jasper ran out of eligibility and Chance Westry transferred to Syracuse. This left the Tigers with only Tre Donaldson, Lior Berman and K.D. Johnson as guards with playing experience on the roster.
Insert Jones, fellow transfer Chad Baker-Mazara and the Tigers’ second-highest-rated recruit in school history, Aden Holloway and it’s safe to say the Tigers bulked up at the position.
Auburn center Johni Broome believes that Jones will bring a lot to the table for the Tigers this season.
“He can shoot the ball, he can guard, he can also go back to the 1 [point guard] and be a secondary ball handler for us and run the offense through him,” said Broome at SEC Media Days. “He’s unselfish as well, he makes the right plays and right passes and plays basketball the right way.”
On the offensive end of the court is where Jones shines. Last season he led FIU with 20.1 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting and Jones shot 37.1 percent from three. Three-point shooting was a desperate need for the Tigers following last season.
Auburn only shot 31.6 percent from three-point range, which led the Tigers to be ranked 309th in the country in that category. A major question for Tigers fans heading into the 2023-2024 season is can the team improve upon their three-point shooting? Bruce Pearl thinks so.
“Yes,” said Pearl with a smile. “It’s a great question, I’m not being short for any particular reason, yes. Gonna make me look like a lot better coach offensively.”