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Denver Jones, Jaylin Williams and Johni Broome speak ahead of NCAA Tournament opener

Justin Hokansonby:Justin Hokanson03/21/24


Auburn players Denver Jones, Jaylin Williams and Johni Broome met the media in Spokane, Washington on Thursday afternoon. The 4-seed Tigers (27-7) face 13-seed Yale on Friday at 3:15 pm CT in Spokane Arena.

Here’s everything Jones, Williams and Broome had to say:

Q. Let’s start with a general statement from each of you just on being in Spokane and your first round matchup and we’ll start with Johni and work our way down.

JOHNI BROOME: I feel like this team, myself and the coaching staff, is excited to be in Spokane and excited to play our first game in March Madness. It’s every kid’s dream to play in this game, in this atmosphere, but we’re excited to play Yale and ready to get to it.

JAYLIN WILLIAMS: Yeah, this is my first time being out here. So I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been in my life, so this is a place I wanted to be, especially with this group of teammates and coaching staff. And leading into the tournament after the SEC tournament, winning that, and coming into here with confidence was the big key to being here.

DENVER JONES: I’m just excited to be in this position I’m in. I’ve always dreamed of being here, March Madness. This is my first time actually being here and actually being in Spokane, Washington. I’m just really excited to play and get to the first round.

Q. Jaylin, you said it there, this team is coming off an incredible weekend playing three great games in the SEC tournament. What is the confidence level right now and how do you all feel after winning the SEC tournament having some days off and now getting here in Spokane?

JAYLIN WILLIAMS: To be honest, it hasn’t really felt like we had any days off since, like, the post-season started. Having a day off the day of Selection Sunday was basically like our travel back to Auburn and getting our feel back and then we’re back to practicing again. So we always are prepared at the best of our abilities. Our coaching staff gets us to that point to where — like, they give us the answers to the test and we just got to take advantage of it.

Q. You guys lost two straight at mid season on the road, and then I think you guys have lost once since then. What changed for you guys in SEC play that’s allowed you to play as well as you have over these last six weeks?

DENVER JONES: Can you repeat the question?

Q. Why have you guys played as well as you have over the last six weeks?

DENVER JONES: Honestly, really just a great game plan that our coaches have put in play. Thanks to our scout team as well. They prepared us great for the teams that we played in the SEC. So I would probably say kudos to our coaches and scout team.

JAYLIN WILLIAMS: I would say, for me and my teammates, we’re older on the team, so we understand the whole process. Six weeks ago, people tell us, like, this is it, this is our team, so we got to go out there and give it our all. I feel like that hit us and just made us more locked in with the scout, and the things we eat, when we go to sleep, and those things really helped us throughout the last six weeks.

JOHNI BROOME: Six weeks ago we was 8 in the country, I think, before we went and lost those two games in a row. So I feel like losing those two was a wakeup call because this team is very special and we could have won both those games easily, and we knew that. So we just got to limit and clean up a couple things and we can go a long way, and since then, we kind of turned it around.

Q. Spokane is a space, a city, that has little diversity, but it’s growing. From a young black male’s perspective, what would you say to some other young black males who are trying to just work hard in getting to this next level of playing? What would you encourage them or say to them to do?

JAYLIN WILLIAMS: Me growing up in a small town, like, there wasn’t really much there. So I didn’t know that growing up there because that was the norm for me. I just loved playing basketball. So if you keep playing and keep enjoying the things, you do the right things, God is going to bless you. Like, I ended up doing the right things, going to Atlanta, driving four and a half hours and — just you got to make sacrifices if you want to be who you want to be in life.

JOHNI BROOME: Kind of like what Jaylin said, life’s about sacrifices and choices in life. At a young age, if you can make the choices and get in the gym or doing whatever you love, whether you’re playing football, getting on the field and just working on your craft rather than going out partying. I’m pretty sure everybody — all of us would have liked to have had a little more fun growing up as like our friends would do, but like Jaylin said, sacrifices are necessary.

DENVER JONES: I agree with Jaylin. You have to enjoy doing what you’re doing. You got to keep working hard at it, no matter what the outcome is. I know for me I had to make a lot of sacrifices and for me that was going up to Memphis and playing in prep school up there. So if I was them, I would just say, you have to make a lot of sacrifices in order to get to where you want to get to.

Q. What was your reaction to finding out three Alabama schools were all sent up here to Spokane?

JOHNI BROOME: I was kind of surprised with being in Alabama and three schools going all this way to Spokane, Washington. I think that’s like 28 hundred miles, something like that. But the draw is kind of a weird draw, but we’re all excited.

JAYLIN WILLIAMS: For me, I just kind of focused on our team. But it is special for, like, the state in general because you got a lot of fans that are Auburn fans, Alabama fans, and people that went to UAB, and so there are fans of all three. So it’s special to have all three of these teams in the tournament and we’re just going to see who advances the longest.

DENVER JONES: I was a little shocked seeing all three of us on the same side, but it is special seeing three Alabama teams here on the same side, and most likely, there are probably going to be fans of all three of us, so fans can come watch us play anytime, so I feel like it’s kind of a blessing too at the same times to have three teams from Alabama here in Spokane.

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