On June 5, Auburn forward JT Thor announced his plans to officially leave the Plains after just one season playing for the Tigers, opting to pursue his professional dreams in the upcoming NBA Draft.
In March, Thor planned to dip his toe into the waters of the NBA Draft by going through the evaluation process with the option of returning. Evidently, he found his prospects to be tempting enough to make the decision to leave final.
“First and foremost, I’d like to thank Coach (Bruce) Pearl and the entire coaching staff here at Auburn for accepting me with open arms both on and off the court,” Thor said. “Being here has taught me to value hard work and doing things the right way, the Auburn way. I’d also like to thank my teammates for an amazing season. We had our ups and downs, but through it all, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
In Thor’s lone season, he managed to average 9.4 points, five rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game through 27 games. In those 27 games, he played for approximately 23 minutes each contest. He was one of five freshmen in the country with at least 250 points, 100 rebounds and 30 blocks on the year.
“JT has a great future ahead of him,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “He’s a hard worker, he’s got great versatility and he showed the potential he has on both ends of the floor this past season. We’re going to support him as he goes through this process.”
With Thor off to the NBA, the Tigers have four forwards left on the roster who will be vying to fill in Thor’s 6’10 hole.
Junior Ty Cressman will not be the favorite to take over Thor’s position but should the improbable occur he is on the roster and ready if called on.
Cressman has not seen any action for the Tigers. Pearl will more than likely look to fellow forwards Chris Moore and Jaylin Williams to replace Thor.
Williams, a rising junior, was able to garner nearly 11 points per game and five rebounds with two assists during the 2020 season. Moore had almost 3 points, 2 rebounds, and half an assist per game in the previous season. Despite Moore’s seemingly lackluster stats, he seemed to gain confidence as the season progressed.
Outside Williams and Moore, rising sophomore Dylan Cardwell also has the potential to make a splash in the race to replace Thor. Cardwell is listed as a center but has the potential to become a forward if needed. Last season he averaged 3.8 points per game, 3.6 rebounds, and 0.5 assists.
Replacing a star freshman like JT Thor will not be an easy task but replenishing one-and-done players like Thor and Sharife Cooper are a part of any successful basketball program.
Auburn also has another roster spot to fill after Arkansas transfer Desi Sills announced on Instagram that he would not be attending Auburn as previously planned. He will play next season at Arkansas State.