Auburn coach Bruce Pearl continued building for the future on The Plains last week when he inked three key recruits during the early signing period, including the highest-rated player in program history.
The star of the class is five-star Sharife Cooper, a 6-foot, 160-pound point guard out of McEachern High in Powder Springs, Georgia. Pearl and the Tigers set their sights on Cooper years ago and were one of the first schools to start heavily recruiting him.
"He could have gone anywhere and been the point guard," said Pearl. "The common denominator in this group and with our success over the last several years in recruiting has been we got there early. It became real fashionable to recruit Sharife Cooper two years ago, but it wasn’t four years ago when he was undersized.
"He and his family appreciate that we were first and really truly believed in him. He’s special, he’s unique, he’s rare. He’s a great competitor. All he wants to do is win. He makes everybody else around him better."
Cooper is ranked the No. 2 point guard and No. 19 player overall in the class of 2020, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
"We told you that Jared Harper was going to be worth the price of admission," said Pearl. "You can say that again when it comes to Sharife Cooper."
The Tigers also landed three-star Justin Powell, a 6-5, 180-pound shooting guard out of Goshen, Kentucky. Like with Cooper's recruitment, Pearl found and pursued Powell early in the recruiting process when he was only a freshman and sophomore.
"We were the very first to offer Justin and he appreciated that. He and his family remembered that. You’re going to recognize what a great shooter he is. He can make it from Kentucky with the baskets in Auburn. If he can see it, he can make it," said Pearl. "The thing I love about him is he really wants to be a complete player. He’s worked on his body, his speed and his quickness. That discipline, work ethic and recognition of his great skill, but also the desire to be a more complete player. He’s also a great competitor."
The Tigers closed out the early signing period by inking Arkansas native Chris Moore, a 6-7, 220-pound three-star power forward.
"We were Chris’ first official visit a couple years ago. He and his family fell in love with the place. They used Auburn as that barometer everywhere else they went. How did it compare to Auburn?," said Pearl. "Chris is such a matchup nightmare for the opponent. Like Isaac Okoro, he can guard 1 through 5. He’s physically tough. He’s a great competitor. If you want to use Chris Moore as the brand of Auburn basketball, I’d be fine with that. He can put the ball down on the floor and create off the bounce. He gives you great versatility."