The Auburn men's basketball team will have to take another shot at a Final Four run next season without one of its biggest leaders after junior point guard Jared Harper announced this week he would forgo his senior season, hire an agent and enter the NBA Draft.
Harper played a pivotal role for the Tigers as they tore through the month of March without a loss and fought their way to the program's first Final Four appearance.
"First, I would like to thank God for providing me with the talent to play the game that I love and giving me the opportunity to share lifetime memories of our historic run,” Harper said. “My dream coming out of high school was to lead Auburn to a national championship and we were close."
Harper praised head coach Bruce Pearl for believing in him, as well as the fans, his teammates and athletic trainers.
"Jared Harper has been the quarterback of this basketball program for the last three years,” Pearl said. “He came here on a promise that together we could help make Auburn basketball relevant. Promises made. Promises kept.
"I have always been a believer in Jared. He is a special player with speed, quickness, power and a skill level that is unmatched by virtually any player his size. He will make it in the NBA.”
Harper finishes his career with 511 assists, which ranks fifth in Auburn history. He also set the single-season program record in assists with 231 for the 2018-19 season. Harper was also deadly from the outside, often pulling up well behind the three-point line to shoot. He finishes with 213 career three-pointers, good for sixth all-time. His 1,427 career points places him at 14th in program history.
Without Harper, the Tigers will likely turn to backup point guard J'Von McCormick next season, while welcoming in four-star combo guard Tyrell Jones, the No. 123-ranked player in the nation in the class of 2019.