Today, we move on to the 4 spot on the floor and Auburn has an abundance of options at this spot on the floor. They need that after the loss of Chuma Okeke. Okeke did a little bit of everything on both sides of the floor and there’s no question losing him was a big loss. After Chuma went down, Danjel Purifoy and Anfernee McLemore stepped up and took on a bigger role. Now they will both be asked to do more in their final seasons on the Plains. Add in freshman Jaylin Williams and the Tigers have a bunch of great options to put at the 4 spot on the floor at any time.
#3 Danjel Purifoy - Senior, Centreville, Alabama
“OH LORD, WE’VE BEEN WAITING ON YOU BIG FELLA!”-Sonny Smith— Derrick & Marlon for Heisman (@sheabooskyy) March 30, 2019
It is Danjel Purifoy’s moment.
This 3 in the SEC Championship game only marks the beginning of his coming-out party. He’s ready. pic.twitter.com/eUgctP6yeH
Sonny Smith said it best that day in Nashville. “Oh Lord, We’ve Been Waiting on You Big Fella.”
Danjel has had his share of ups and downs while at Auburn but this is his senior year. He had a pair of 27 point games his freshman season and he has the capability to do that for Auburn this year. According to Bruce, Danjel had the best off-season of anyone on the roster and this is his opportunity to shine.
Couple of things Bruce Pearl mentioned on Tiger Talk tonight: With 13 guys, he may redshirt 1 or 2 of them, Danjel Purifoy had the best offseason of anyone, and that Samir Doughty is going to be 1 of Auburn's best players. Just a few things to be excited about with 75 days to go!— Will McLaughlin (@ShootyHoopsWill) August 23, 2019
Think about it. Danjel sat out his first year at Auburn in 2015-2016 due to eligibility issues, got hurt early in the SEC portion of his first year playing and never looked the same after that. He sat out 2017-2018 and then missed the first 9 games of last season so Danjel’s never been able to really get into a true consistent rhythm until the very end of last year.
Fast forward to this year and now, Danjel’s healthy, he doesn’t have to worry about eligibility issues and he’ll be in the starting lineup. All of those things plus the confidence he began to show and play with at the end of last year are all recipes for Danjel to have a spectacular senior season!
Danjel will get more opportunities to hit 3s and its needed this year. Last season, he was 20-56 from 3-point range. He was 4-6 in the UNC game including 3 consecutive 3-pointers (beginning at 1:42 in the following video) which put Auburn up 16 against Carolina midway through the 2nd half.
I could watch all of those 3-pointers all day long but to me, the 9 consecutive points in that particular stretch was Danjel’s signature moment as an Auburn Tiger so far.
But before Chuma’s injury, these are the kind of plays we saw down the stretch from him that allowed him to become a reliable contributor off the bench during the Final Four run.
My favorite segment from today’s game. Danjel Purifoy was big for Auburn today. Here he comes up with 2 offensive rebounds and the 3rd times the charm as Bryce hits an open 3. pic.twitter.com/8gh6KYdRIK— Will McLaughlin (@ShootyHoopsWill) March 14, 2019
Danjel will also go down in Auburn history as the 1st ever Tiger to score in the Final Four.
Danjel Purifoy gets Auburn’s first bucket of the #FinalFour #WarEagle pic.twitter.com/L3iSWHKhcq— Power of Dixieland (@PwrofDixieland) April 6, 2019
With someone needed to replace the production from Chuma Okeke, Purifoy looks to be the candidate to fill that role. When Chuma went down in Kansas City, Purifoy stepped up big time. Now, he’s gonna have plenty of opportunities to step up and be a star for Auburn. He has stuck with Auburn through thick and thin and personally, I hope this is the year he finally is able to put it all together.
#24 Anfernee McLemore - Senior, Warwick, Georgia
From Day 1, Anfernee McLemore has been one of my favorite Auburn players. He’s unselfish, he plays hard all the time, and he’s incredibly intelligent. Anytime I talk about Anfernee McLemore, I think back to this sequence of plays he had against Kentucky back in 2018.
Might be the 30-35 seconds I remember the most from this season. A lot of this because of Anfernee McLemore. pic.twitter.com/lW8XNeKXNG— Will McLaughlin (@wlmcl) February 20, 2018
Anfernee McLemore was the best player on the floor that night, a game that had several McDonald’s All-Americans playing for Kentucky. Then the injury happens the following game. McLemore had some good moments last year and one of his best games was the first game against Georgia last year. He was aggressive, bouncy and for the first time all season, we got to see Anfernee do what he did best prior to the injury.
It’s 1 in the morning and I’m watching Auburn Basketball highlights because why not!!! pic.twitter.com/u8PbLxJklh— Will McLaughlin (@ShootyHoopsWill) November 1, 2019
You could put Anfernee either here or with the centers, but McLemore looks likely to get more opportunities to play at the 4 spot this year. Especially with the emergence of “Stretch” Akingbola ready to play behind Wiley at the center spot, it allows Anfernee to play more at the 4 spot this year. McLemore will still play some at the 5 spot but the bottom line is this: Auburn has depth on the interior this year and the Tigers will look to rely on their inside game a bunch more this season. While Auburn will continue to shoot 3s in bunches, expect Auburn to make a concerted effort to get the ball in the paint much more this year. Along with Purifoy, McLemore looks primed to take on more from 3-point range this season. He attempted 112 3-pointers last season and expect the number to be around that this year.
McLemore played great in the Final Four. He had 9 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes of action. I don’t like thinking about that game much but he and Samir Doughty both had a good game for Auburn.
Anfernee McLemore with the TOUGH slam! #FinalFour | #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/vVvs0XbGIP— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 6, 2019
#2 Jaylin Williams - Freshman, Nahunta, Georgia
If there’s a guy flying under the radar on this year’s Auburn team, it’s Jaylin Williams, the freshman out of south Georgia. I haven’t heard a bunch about Williams leading up to the season but with Purifoy, McLemore, and Wiley already in the frontcourt, we’ll see how much Williams plays this year. I fully expect him to be a piece off the bench this season but with the departures of the above 3 after this year, we’ll see much more from him in 2020-2021.
Williams has big shoes to fill in another category though. He’s wearing Bryce Brown’s number this season. At 6’7”, 230 pounds, Williams was ranked 120th on 247 Sports Class of 2019 list. He averaged 25 points and 14 rebounds a game for Brantley County High School last season.
The other thing I like about him: Williams is a lefty. I’m hoping the Tigers will give him some solid minutes this year but I imagine at least early, you’ll see much more of the other guys. But having a guy like Williams who can come in and make an impact off the bench is a valuable asset for this Auburn team.
On Monday, we will finish the Auburn roster breakdown by looking at Centers Austin Wiley and Babatunde “Stretch” Akingbola.