Auburn, Bruce Pearl watching NBA to learn how to use size on court

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For the first time since Bruce Pearl arrived at Auburn in 2014, he’s going to have a good problem on the court in a lot of size.

With UNC transfer Walker Kessler (7-foot-1), J.T. Thor (6-foot-10), Babatunde Akingbola (6-foot-10) and Dylan Cardwell (6-foot-11), the Tigers now have four players, counting Thor, that can be mismatches in the interior. Yet how will Pearl and his staff keep everyone happy with playing time and get the most out of their skills? The Auburn coach is learning by watching the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

“Everybody knows that they’re better when the big fella (Davis) plays the 5 and LeBron plays the 4,” Pearl said per AuburnSports.com Bryan Matthews. “Well, they’ve got a couple of centers that need to be out there. All of a sudden, they’re all playing out of position. They’re bigger. What could they be doing better?

“I watch the Lakers really carefully, because we’re probably going to be bigger. So, taking advantage of our size and it not being a weakness. Letting it be a strength and a problem for our opponents.”

The arrival of Kessler, a former five-star recruit, is one of the top gets in all of college basketball this offseason as he brings a versatility to the position that Auburn hasn’t had in the past.

When you add in Jaylin Williams (6-foot-8) and incoming freshman Jabari Smith Jr. (6-foot-9), you also have three big guys that can shoot from the outside.

“I think the thing is, you look at every team and look at what we have. We’re gonna be really big at 4 and 5, bigger than we’ve ever been,” Pearl said. “We’ve got really skilled guys at the position. Dylan is really getting skilled. He’s really mobile. Walker is really mobile. Stretch is really mobile. Jaylin and Jabari are really skilled. I’ve got five really good frontline guys. So that’s going to be different.”