Desi Sills commits to Auburn

Arkansas transfer Desi Sills committed to Auburn April 20.

Sills averaged 7.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists during his three years as a Razorback, shooting 43 percent from the field goal, 35 percent from three and 67 percent from the line during that time. Sills also averaged 0.9 steals per game and had a positive assist to turnover ratio for his Arkansas career.

Auburn’s newest transfer is probably best known among Auburn fans for almost singe-handily beating the Tigers. Sills averaged 22.5 points per game against Auburn this season, making 15 of his 27 attempts from the field and hitting four of his eight three point attempts against the Tigers. (Side note: One of KenPom’s statistical comparisons to Desi Sills’ 2019-20 season is Devontae Shuler)

Bruce Pearl raved about Sills’ after one of his big games against Auburn.

“Desi Sills is the most experienced player out there, and he was the best player out there in a lot of ways,” Pearl told WholeHogSports. “Really good player, fun kid to watch. I really like him.”

Sills scored in double-digits 10 times last season, with his first and second highest point totals coming against Auburn. He also had 16 points against Oral Roberts, 15 points at South Carolina and 14 at LSU. Out of his 98 games played at Arkansas, Sills scored in double-digits 32 times. He had 47 starts and played 10 or more minutes 88 times.

Sills also put up good defensive numbers during his time at Arkansas. He ranked No. 17 in the SEC in defensive rating last season and No. 18 in steals, No. 11 in defensive box +/- and No. 14 (No. 310 nationally) in steal percentage.

With Sills, Auburn will get an experienced off ball guard who can score in bunches when hot. Sills makes plenty of hustle plays on both ends of the court and can be valuable bench piece on a talented team. Arkansas basketball expert Ben Brandon gave us a more in-depth look at Sills game, from someone who has watched Sills play for a long time. Follow Ben on Twitter at @BenBrandonHoops.

Jay: Auburn fans know Desi Sills can score. What’re some of the things he brings to the table that people who only saw him smoke Auburn might not know about?

Ben: The biggest thing fans loved about Desi in an Arkansas uniform was his “dawg” mentality. Sills is a fearless player and gives maximum effort all the time. That fearlessness can be to a fault at times, but overall, you know you are getting a player that will give you everything he has.

Jay: Sills put up some good defensive efficiency numbers. Is defense a strength of his?

Ben: That’s a tough question. He makes all the hustle plays so that can help those statistics, but I won’t lie that quicker guards get by him off the dribble. I always liked his off-ball defense, but on the ball can be an issue at times.

Jay: Is he strictly an off ball guard? Can he play point guard?

Ben: Keep him off the ball. His handles or court vision aren’t quite strong enough for a PG role, but his ability to catch and shoot will be helpful to any team with a decent PG. Desi is also a very good cutter. He will get multiple opportunities at the basket from great cutting.

Jay: What’s his ceiling/floor as a player on a talented Auburn team that doesn’t seem to have any solidified starters in the backcourt at this time?

Ben: If Auburn is a really good basketball team and Desi is contributing then I think he is coming off the bench. He has played the starter role and bench player role before. He was spark many times in his Arkansas career. He can shoot the ball. Streaky at times, but the hot streaks are really hot. If I was an Auburn fan, I’d love to see Sills come off the bench to hit 3s and make those winnings hustle plays that fire up the crowd and team.

Jay: What are some of his weaknesses?

Ben: I mentioned his fearlessness can be a problem earlier. Here’s what I mean: Desi is maybe 6-1. His fearlessness includes drives to the basket that are entirely out of control. Sometimes he will finish a wild shot. Other times he goes up out of control and takes hard falls. He’ll get blocked. He’ll miss layups that are too high off the glass attempting to avoid shot-blocking defenders. The other weakness is overall consistency. In each season at Arkansas, it felt like he had a 2 seasons within 1. I’ll explain: In 2020-21, he was incredible through the first 10 games. He shot the ball efficiently, played with confidence, and led the team. The rest of the season he lacked confidence, shot poorly, and his minutes were greatly reduced. That has been the story for each season at Arkansas.

Ben provided some stats that I held onto during a previous discussion:

18-19 – First 27 games: 3.9 points while shooting 32.4 percent from three. Last eight games: 10.1 points, shooting 64.3 percent from three.

19-20 – First 20 games: 9.7 points, shooting 23.5 percent from three. Last 12 games: 12.3 points, shooting 45.2 percent from three.

20-21 – First nine games: 14.1 points, 61.2 percent from two and 41.7 percent from three. Last 23 games: 4.9 points, shooting 44.1 percent from two and 24.5 percent from three.

Ben: If Bruce Pearl can find a way to keep him consistent then Desi will be a solid contributor.

Sills gives Auburn a great depth piece as a guard who has shown he can score with anyone and is the second most experienced player on Auburn’s roster. Sills is also a willing defender who plays hard and should fit in well with Auburn’s philosophy and roster.

The rest

With Sills on the roster, Auburn only has spot left open assuming JT Thor is staying in the draft for now. Auburn has been rumored to be saving a spot for a guard (such as Scoot Henderson) or a different reclassification or transfer who comes on the market during the summer. The deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft in July 19, and there could be several more big names on the market between now and then.

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