AUBURN — Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl is just about done tinkering.
The 63-year-old went to work on his roster this offseason, inking a couple transfers in Denver Jones (Florida Atlantic) and Chaney Johnson (Alabama-Huntsville) to go along with former junior college standout Chad Baker-Mazara and five-star freshman Aden Holloway, who just recently got to campus.
The Tigers are up now to 10 scholarship players, though Pearl has teased that walk-on Lior Berman may soon be elevated, making it 11 players with a scholarship. Division I basketball teams have 13 spots to work with.
Pearl said last month at the annual Fore the Children Golf Classic in Alexander City that he doesn't necessarily feel the need to get to exactly 13 scholarships: "I've never been a guy that's stockpiled players," he said. He also told the Montgomery Advertiser at SEC spring meetings last week that the only potential additions left to make were "maybe some depth" pieces.
Here's a position-by-position breakdown of what Auburn's rotation could look like next year, along with a predicted starter at each spot.
Point guard: Aden Holloway
Five-star freshman Aden Holloway is ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the No. 2 all-time recruit the Tigers have ever added, with Jabari Smith Jr. being the only prospect ranked higher coming out of high school. Auburn learned the hard way last season that highly-touted freshman don't always work out − Yohan Traore and Chance Westry transferred out after one year − but if Holloway can be more in the vein of a Sharife Cooper or Jared Harper, the Tigers may be in business.
But he'll surely take time to adjust, and that's the benefit of having sophomore Tre Donaldson available, especially early in the season. Pearl briefly experimented with this last season, but a two-PG lineup that features both Holloway and Donaldson could be interesting and worth a try.
Shooting guard: Denver Jones
KD Johnson excelled down the stretch of last season coming off the bench; he averaged 10.4 points and made 38% of his 3-pointers over the final 14 games of the season. Bringing in Jones allows Johnson to remain in that sixth-man role, while also giving Auburn's starting lineup some much-needed shooting ability and scoring punch.
Jones averaged 20.1 points per game on 47.8% shooting at FIU last season. Even if those numbers dip some − he won't have to carry the load as much at Auburn − Jones has a chance to be an integral piece of the season as a threat to score at all three levels.
Small forward: Chad Baker-Mazara
Pearl and his staff very obviously had a mission this offseason: Get better from beyond the 3-point arc. Auburn's departures made 28.5% of their shots from long range last season (103/362), while the newcomers connected on 39.2% of their attempts (150/383).
Baker-Mazara is 3-point shooting personified. He made 46.9% of his triples at Northwest Florida State College in 2022-23 and should serve as a real floor spacer for Auburn. Chris Moore has the ability to play both forward positions off the bench, and Berman could be available as a reserve in this spot, too.
Power forward: Jaylin Williams
Jaylin Williams is back for one more season at Auburn after proving to be one of the most efficient offensive options for the Tigers last season. He averaged a career-best 11.2 points per game and shot 35.4% from 3-point range on 113 attempts. The players with better percentages from deep − Moore (40.9%), Donaldson (40.6%) and Berman (35.5%) − took far less shots, as the trio combining for 85 attempts.
Chaney Johnson is the most likely newcomer to come off the bench. He played an exhibition versus Auburn last season − he dropped 14 points and grabbed five boards − and at 6-foot-7, is someone with versatility to play either forward position.
Center: Johni Broome
Auburn fans took a collective sigh of relief May 29 when Broome announced he was withdrawing from the 2023 NBA Draft and returning for another season on the Plains. Pearl said Broome could've gone in the second round, but opted to come back.
That decision has a chance to pay great dividends. Broome led the Tigers in both scoring (14.2) and rebounding (8.4) last season, and that was with some poor spacing and a shorter squad. With the improved shooting and increased height, he should have more space to work in the post and his job should be made easier. As the Auburn Observer's Justin Ferguson pointed out, Broome averaged 15.9 points and 9.3 rebounds and made 60.6% of his 2-pointers when the Tigers shot better than 33% from 3-point range last season.
And with Dylan Cardwell also returning from the draft process, Auburn has a physical defender available when Broome needs to be spelled.
Richard Silva is the Auburn athletics beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @rich_silva18.
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Auburn basketball: What should Bruce Pearl's rotation look like?