No, not Felton. This time it's Jeff Lebo and the Auburn basketball program.
Josh Dollard has been dismissed. A 12-pt and 7 rebound per game power forward in 2006, Dollard sat out last year due to medical reasons, and was dismissed before the 2008/2009 season got under way. In other off-season developments, reserves Boubacar Sylla and Matt Heramb have transferred. That's three big players fewer for an Auburn squad that already was on the smallish side.
Although Auburn has a class of five freshmen coming in, none of the newcomers ranked above 3 stars, according to Rivals. Could be good players, but it's unknown how much help they will be once the SEC portion of the schedule gets going.
There is some good news for Auburn fans, and that is that Korvotney Barber should be back from the broken hand he suffered last year. He averaged 14 pts and 7 rebounds prior to his injury. Further, Auburn would likely have continued to use a guard-heavy line-up, even if Dollard, Sylla and Heramb had stuck around. Assuming the guards get most of the playing time this year, and that Korvotney Barber is healthy, the incoming freshmen big men should have some time to adjust before being called upon to play a lot of minutes.
The problem for Lebo is that he also lost key contributors Frank Tolbert (13 pts and 5 rebounds per game) and Quan Prowell (15 pts and 6 boards per game) due to graduation. Add that natural turnover to the one dismissal and the two transfers, and factor in an SEC that figures to be stronger than last year, and Auburn might not improve much over last year's 4 and 12 SEC record.
Auburn is committing to basketball, nonetheless. I imagine that recruiting will start to pick up the closer they get to the opening of their new basketball arena. Jeff Lebo might have to do his best coaching job to hold it all together until then.