Auburn hoping for immediate impact from Niagara transfer Mason and JUCO forward Bowers


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MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Coach Bruce Pearl isn't the only newcomer expected to make a big impact on Auburn's basketball team quickly.

High-scoring guard Antoine Mason transferred in from Niagara and top junior college prospect Cinmeon Bowers also arrived on campus this summer. Auburn has also landed Marshall transfer Kareem Canty, who must sit out next season.

Mason is the nation's top returning scorer after averaging 25.6 points per game last season, which trailed only Creighton senior Doug McDermott.

The son of former NBA player Anthony Mason, he also led the nation with 357 free throw attempts in 33 games. Mason has already graduated and is eligible to play this season.

The 6-foot-7, 261-pound Bowers averaged 12.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game at Chipola College last season.

"Mason will get to the rim," Pearl said Monday in a teleconference for Southeastern Conference coaches. "He'll be in the lane and can score. He'll get to the foul line. He's a willing passer. They're both physical players, which I think is something that we lacked.

"Cinmeon, he's got a real man's body. And he's got a skill level to be able to put the ball down on the floor and create that can make him a matchup problem. Those are two really nice pieces that have got very strong dimensions. I think that's the thing I like about them."

The Tigers desperately needed an infusion of SEC-ready talent after losing three starters from Tony Barbee's team that went 6-12 in the league and 14-16 overall.

They also needed a physical player inside like Bowers. Auburn's top returning rebounder is guard KT Harrell, who averaged 4.0 per game.

"He can be a dominant rebounder," Pearl said of Bowers. "He likes to rebound. He can face the basket and draw you away. He likes to be in the paint and he likes to find contact. Both he and Mason have a chance to lead our team in free throws attempted because they like to draw contact. He has an SEC body, he has a physical presence and if you look the three most physical teams in our league last year, all three of those teams were in the NCAA tournament: Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee."

Auburn had already announced the signing of onetime Virginia Tech recruit TJ Lang since Pearl's arrival, joining Barbee's two early signees. Lang got a release from his scholarship.

Canty averaged 16.3 points as a freshman at Marshall and his 5.5 assists per game ranked third in Conference USA.

Pearl is relying on his staff to handle recruiting until an NCAA show cause penalty expires in August.

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