AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn basketball benefited greatly from a transfer this season, as Desean Murray averaged 10 points and nearly 7 rebounds per game for a team that lacked quality depth on the inside.
The Tigers could benefit from another transfer next season, too.
Former VCU guard Samir Doughty sat out the 2017-18 season for Auburn, joining ineligible players Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy on a stacked scout team. He’ll have two seasons of eligibility on the Plains.
Doughty averaged 9.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.9 steals as a redshirt freshman in 2016-17. Although he wasn’t a regular starter, the Philadelphia native was the Rams’ fourth-leading scorer. During Auburn’s Italy trip this past summer, Doughty averaged 6.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 2.0 assists.
At 6-foot-4 and 187 pounds, Doughty is a combo guard that best fits in the shooting guard role for Auburn. His decent production in terms of rebounding could also make him a small-ball lineup small forward in the Tigers’ four-out, one-in offensive system.
“Samir brings experience, versatility and the ability to make his teammates better as a play maker and slasher,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said when Doughty joined the Tigers last year. “Samir can play several positions on the floor. Like a lot of Philly guards, he’s got swag to his game and will enjoy the fast tempo of Auburn basketball.”
Mustapha Heron might be the closest comparison to Doughty on the roster. Doughty is a decent shooter from beyond the arc, but his best work comes when he’s driving toward the basket. From there, he can create his own shot or kick out for open shooters — ideally, players such as Bryce Brown, Jared Harper, Murray and Chuma Okeke.
“He has a knack for scoring the ball, he’s got a knack for finding little creases in the defense where can go score,” former VCU coach and current LSU coach Will Wade said last year.
Doughty is a smooth finisher around the basket and has no issue taking defenders off the dribble. While he was a point guard in high school, he was a primary scorer, averaging nearly 25 points per game. He scored 47 in one game as a senior.
Doughty’s solid rebounding numbers in both high school — where he averaged 9.7 of them per game — and college will serve him well in Auburn’s system. He had several games in which he was at or near double-digits in rebounds at VCU.
Heron has been one of Auburn’s top rebounders as a small forward, and the undersized Tigers have an “all hands on deck” mentality when it comes to grabbing boards.
His steal rate is also an encouraging sign for Auburn, which generated a lot of transition offense this season off of turnovers. Doughty should be an additional boost to the Tigers’ perimeter defense.
Where Doughty fits in the rotation for Auburn down the road will depend on a few NBA draft decisions.
If Heron decides to go pro, Doughty will have a strong shot to start in 2018-19 beside Harper and Brown in the backcourt. His chances increase if Danjel Purifoy — who is a natural small forward — also heads to the next level.
If Heron and Purifoy come back, Doughty will give Auburn a deeper bench. He would be an ideal shooting guard behind Brown in a two-deep rotation, spelling the 3-point shooter with a different type of offensive attack while maintaining a strong level of defense.
That would also allow Davion Mitchell to focus on point guard instead of the combo role he played as a freshman. Doughty’s presence would let Auburn run and gun more without as many fatigue and foul concerns as it had this season.
Doughty have been a vocal and energetic presence in practices this season on Auburn’s scout team. His full eligibility should make Pearl’s potential-filled Tigers even more dangerous for the next two seasons.