'We're doing it together': Bruce Pearl's Fore the Children Golf Classic


Bruce Pearl

ALEXANDER CITY, Ala.  Before the participants in Bruce Pearl's 11th annual Fore the Children Golf Classic climbed into their carts and motored away Monday toward their first holes, the event's namesake thanked them for supporting Auburn men's basketball on the court and in the community.

"Bottom line, we've done that together," said Pearl, entering his 11th season on the Plains. "Whether it be what we do with AUTLIVE, or what we're doing here, or what we're doing on the basketball court, we're doing it together and we could not do it without you."

On the court, Pearl's Tigers have won four Southeastern Conference championships – two regular season and two tournament – in the past seven years. Off the court, Fore the Children has raised approximately $1.25 million to date to benefit Children's Harbor, a nearby non-profit that provides no-cost services to children and families facing health challenges.

Speaking to reporters at Willow Point Golf and Country Club, Pearl discussed Auburn's roster and roles for new and returning players, including Ja'Heim Hudson, who signed with the Tigers on Friday after averaging 5.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last season at Southern Methodist.

"I was looking to complement that front line with Dylan (Cardwell), Johni (Broome) and Chaney (Johnson)," Pearl said. "Those are three seniors who are good who are going to play, and I wanted to bring in somebody who wasn't afraid to compete with them but wasn't going to feel like they were entitled. It's the right fit.

"He brings some toughness, he can get downhill, he can shoot the 3-ball a little bit. With 'Turtle' (Hudson's nickname), it's going to be interesting to see with the kind of training we do, what that could bring out in him."

Pearl emphasized the importance of strength and conditioning, along with skill acquisition, over the summer.

"This is when you change," Pearl said. "This is when you change your body. These next eight weeks are really important as we start right after Memorial Day getting after it."

While Auburn's frontcourt features the trio of Cardwell, Broome and Johnson, fresh faces will populate the backcourt, including transfer point guard JP Pegues and freshman shooting guard Tahaad Pettiford.

"(JP) had experience, he'd been a three-year starter, he could really shoot the ball and play out of ball screens," said Pearl, crediting Auburn's preseason scrimmage with Furman for giving the Tigers a recruiting advantage with the All-Southern Conference First Team selection. "He was a really good defender with a chance to be better.

"I think both Jahki (Howard) and Tahaad are capable as freshmen of contributing. The jump from high school to college basketball is enormous, especially when we're going to play the toughest non-conference schedule that we've ever had.

"Both Tahaad and Jahki are confident, they're prepared, they've been challenged at the highest level. Those guys know their job is to come in and contribute, make a difference."

Auburn will look to add one more guard, Pearl says, noting the new era of roster composition in college athletics.

"I think that's the last piece," he said. "One more impactful guard. We've tried to be really patient to try to get the right fit. We're involved with a couple really good ones.

"I can't believe it's the middle of May and we're still not done recruiting but that's what the combination of NIL and the transfer portal have done."
 'These next eight weeks are really important': Auburn will begin summer workouts after Memorial Day
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer