Auburn has already missed out on a few transfer targets this off season, most recently Mac McClung, but there are still two big name transfers on the Tigers’ board in Both Gach and LJ Figueroa.
On May 26, Eric Bossi of Rivals reported Gach was planning a virtual visit with Auburn, among many other schools.
On May 28, Adam Zagoria reported Figueroa received a call from Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl, and Auburn assistants are also coming strong after Figueroa.
Figueroa played at St. John’s with former Auburn guard Mustapha Heron and went to the same high school as Auburn guard Tyrell Jones.
Figueroa and Gach would both have to pull their names out of the NBA Draft and apply for waivers to receive immediate eligibility, but rumors surrounding Auburn’s last remaining roster spot say immediate eligibility is a requirement for anyone Auburn takes. If true, that is likely due to how talented the class of 2021 is and how few roster spots Auburn could have available for it.
David Sisk of Rivals tweeted that “Figueroa also reportedly has been told by schools that he will get immediate eligibility after leaving St. John’s.”
Figueroa and Gach are different players, but both of them address some of Auburn’s biggest needs in extra ball handlers and proven scorers.
Figueroa is more of a proven scorer, after averaging 14.5 points per game on 44 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent shooting from three in two years at St. John’s, compared to Gach, who averaged 9.1 points per game on 43 percent shooting from the field and 28 percent shooting from three in two years at Utah.
While not as much of a scorer as Figueroa, Gach still showed bright spots on offense. During his college career, Gach has scored 20 or more points four times, including 24 points against Oregon and 22 points at Kentucky.
Gach also scored 14 points in a neutral site game against Kentucky. In that game, Gach scored Utah’s first 10 points and was three-of-four from three with 13 points halfway through the first half.
Figueroa is likely a more consistent scorer. Gach has had 36 games with 10 or fewer points while Figueroa has only had 17.
Figueroa seems to be the more proven scorer, which is a big necessity for Auburn’s roster, but Gach does things other than scoring that could put him on the same level as Figueroa in term’s of how they fit Auburn’s roster.
Gach was reported to have wanted to play point guard at Utah and did play as a secondary ball handler.
While his assist to turnover ratio (2.9 assists to 2.8 turnovers) might advertise that as a bad role for Gach, his handle, passing and ability to drive makes him an interesting option to spell Jones and Sharife Cooper. Gach also has promising defensive skills and is a good slasher who is best in transition.
Putting Gach alongside Cooper would help hide Cooper’s defensive problems and allow Cooper to play off ball when he is shooting well.
I think Gach’s defense and handle are more suited for playing shooting guard in the SEC, especially considering Auburn’s roster, compared to Figueroa. Figueroa’s scoring and shooting is better and his defense and handle would allow him to play shooting guard, but he might have a bigger impact in a role where he doesn’t have to initiate as much offense or defend small and quick guards.
Auburn might not need much of that with Cooper and Jones expected to do most of the primary ball handling, but an injury to either could be devastating with how many roles and minutes they are expected to play. So, another ball handler could be a welcome addition.
In my opinion, either would be a great one-year addition to Auburn’s roster, but both seem like they will be hard to get.