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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wildcats off to the NCAA tournament

    MARCH 14, 1986 – Auburn University has a Person that a lot of people haven’t heard much about.

    It’s a Person who has given Auburn’s basketball opponents problems all season.

    Tigers coach Sonny Smith said about this Person at the beginning of this season, “”We’ve had some great players at Auburn during my tenure here, but he is the most complete player I’ve ever coached.””

    One of Smith’s students was Philadelphia 76ers forward Charles Barkley, who for two years left this Person in the shadow of his large frame.

    Now this person is playing in the shadow of the Southeast Conference’s national favorite, Kenny Walker.

    This Person nearly made the 1984 Olympic basketball team as a sophomore, and this season became Auburn’s all-time leading scorer.

    This person is Chuck Person, and in person he might present the biggest obstacle the University of Arizona may have to face all season.

    The senior forward is averaging more than 21 of the Tigers’ usual 71 points. The Tigers’ next-highest scorer is averaging only 11 points per game. But a Person study will tell that his value to Auburn runs much deeper than the fact that he was the Tigers’ high scorer in 21 games and runner-up in three others.

    Person led the Tigers in rebounding in 14 games and was second in eight others. Person has averaged more than seven rebounds this year, and his high was 12, a mark he hit four times this season.

    He’s great on offense, he’s great on defense and he loves to play at Auburn. Even Los Angeles Lakers general manager Jerry West knows that because he tried to get Person last season.

    Person was on his way to the NBA last year when it looked as though Coach Smith was going to leave the Auburn program. But a change in fortune brought both Smith and Person back to the Tigers for another year.

    Next year Person will be bound for more than just the NBA – he’ll be bound for NBA stardom.

    UA coach Lute Olson is another Person believer and knows the problems he can create. “”Person will be as good a player as we’ve played against this season.”” Olson said.

    And the Wildcats have seen some pretty good players in just the Pacific 10 Conference.

    To compare Person to the league’s leading scorer, Reggie Miller, would probably be limiting Person’s abilities. Miller is deadly accurate outside, but Person can drive the lane if there is nothing on the perimeter.

    At 6-8 and 215 pounds, he’s got the size to fight for a rebound, the quickness to run the ball up-court, and a nose for the basket. That’s the kind of Person that makes Smith’s transition offense successful.

    The two-time all-SEC performer is on his way to another selection this season. At home this year Person showed his abilities by scoring 26 points to beat SEC champion Kentucky.

    But highlights like that can be dimmed by the reality that this Person is human too and will have bad nights. After Auburn was picked No. 10 in preseason polls and Person was everybody’s preseason All-American, disappointment hit.

    In the Tigers’ first game at the Big Apple NIT, West Virginia blew Auburn out of Hartford, Conn., with a 75-53 pounding – and Person scored only eight points.

    That ended a 63-game double-digit scoring streak that Person had been running up.

    But Person is a person who builds on his experience. His freshman year he averaged 9.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. As a sophomore he posted figures like 19.8 and eight, and as a junior 22 and 8.9.

    He bounced back after losing to the Mountaineers and only twice was not one of the Tigers’ leading scorers as he helped them to a 19-10 record.


    There is a Person in the SEC who is known from his him in Atlanta to Mississippi, but when Auburn comes West he may no longer need an American Express Card to be known.


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