Courtesy Auburn media relations
AUBURN, Ala. — Ronald Delph, a 7-foot, 235-pound center from Winter Haven, Fla.; Benas Griciunas, a 7-foot, 225-pound center from Silute, Lithuania.; and Tahj Shamsid-Deen, a 5-foot-10, 162-pound point guard from Decatur, Ga., have signed national letters of intent to attend Auburn University and play basketball in 2013-14, head coach Tony Barbee announced Friday.
“I think we have addressed some areas with the graduation of our four seniors,” said Barbee. “We lose some leadership. We lose some size, and we lose an outstanding point guard and center in Josh Wallace and Rob Chubb, and we address that with the signing of two 5-men in Ronald Delph and Benas Griciunas. The point guard situation we addressed with Tahj Shamsid-Deen.
“I am proud of these guys. They all come from winning programs, and they have a winning background. They will be fantastic Auburn men as well as fantastic Auburn basketball players, and it is important that they are both.”
Delph is attending IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., after attending Lake Region High in Winter Haven, Fla., where he was a three-year starter. He averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds last season. In his first game at IMG, Delph totaled 22 points and 12 rebounds where he made a big shot to tie the game late. Delph chose Auburn over Texas A&M, Cincinnati and Miami.
“Ronald Delph has tremendous upside as a 5-man at 7-foot, 235 pounds,” said Barbee on Delph. “He is extremely athletic with great skills in the post. He is a great shot blocker and a great rebounder and can do a lot of great things. He has the ability to step out on the floor and do some things on the perimeter and shoot the ball from three.”
Griciunas is in his third year attending Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., where the team has 12 Div. I players on its roster. The lefthander had 17 points off the bench vs. LA Prep on Nov. 9 and had seven points and seven boards vs. LA Prep a day later as he is playing only 18-19 minutes per game.
He chose Auburn over Georgia Tech, Boston College, St. Mary’s and Washington State.
“I like what Benas brings,” said Barbee. “He is a multi-skilled big man at 6-foot-11, almost 7-foot, but he can shoot the ball. He is a really good passer, and he can handle the ball. He has a great feel in the post. He is left-handed, so he is a difficult matchup.”
Shamsid-Deen, who attends Columbia High School, is ranked No. 91 in the MaxPreps Class of 2013. He has helped lead Columbia to three-straight Class AAA state titles while compiling a 90-9 record. Last year’s team went 31-1 and finished the season ranked 10th nationally. He is a two-time Atlanta Journal-Consitution Class AAA Player of the Year selection.
He has a 3.9 GPA, averaged 14 points, 10 assists and three steals as a junior at Columbia last year. He chose Auburn over UCLA, UConn, Richmond and Northwestern.
“Tahj is a winner,” said Barbee. “He has great speed and great ball skills. He can really score the ball and shoot the ball from the point guard position. He comes from a winning program with three state championships in the state of Georgia Class AAA. Two-time Mr. Basketball in AAA basketball in Georgia, and we know how competitive basketball is in that state.
“I love the fact that he brings that winning background. Winning breeds winning. On top of that, he is a fantastic student. I am excited about Tahj joining our program.”