While in-person recruiting is in a holding pattern for Auburn coaches and other basketball programs around the country by a decree from the NCAA during the coronavirus scare, Coach Bruce Pearl and his staff are hoping for good news this spring as they look to restock a roster that for a second consecutive year will require major rebuilding.
It looks like there is a good chance that freshman Isaac Okoro is going to be a first round NBA Draft pick and the odds of him passing up that kind of opportunity are not high. If he goes, that means the Tigers will have to replace all five starters with Samir Doughty, Austin Wiley, Danjel Purifoy and J’Von McCormick being seniors. The Tigers will also have to replace their top reserve, senior Anfernee McLemore.
While the cupboard is certainly not bare with the return of Allen Flanigan, Jaylin Williams, Devan Cambridge, Jamal Johnson, “Stretch” Akingbola, “Turbo” Jones and Javon Franklin, the Tigers need to restock the roster for the 2020-21 season. They got off to a strong start with that assignment by signing three talented players in the early period back in November, but more help is needed.
With Auburn’s emergence on the national hoops scene, the program has become a more attractive destination for bluechippers.
However, when going after five-star recruits and high-level four stars like Pearl and his staff are doing, it is risky because those guys have a lot of other great options.
The risk factor jumps when recruiting prospects who live a long way from Auburn, which is the case with three of the top targets from this year’s high school senior class.
Two of the more intriguing ones the Tigers are in on are 6-9 Greg Brown from Austin, Texas, who is rated as the No. 1 power forward prospect in the country by 247Sports. He took official visits to Auburn, Kentucky, Michigan, Memphis and Texas, which are the five finalists when he announces his pick on April 24.
The most highly-ranked recruit the Tigers are targeting is 6-5 combo guard Jalen Green, who is rated as the No. 3 overall prospect in America, six spots higher than Brown.
He has plenty of options on the West Coast and elsewhere, but the Tigers appear to be in the mix with an assist from early signee Sharife Cooper, a five-star point guard from McEachern High in Powder Springs, Georgia who Green is considering as a potential teammate.
The Tigers signed two more talented guys in the early period, 6-5 shooting guard Justin Powell from Goshen, Kentucky, and 6-7 forward Chris Moore from West Memphis, the player of the year in Arkansas.
However, with Wiley and McLemore leaving, Auburn really needs to sign tall guys. They are in the mix for a pair of four-stars who fit that description.
Cliff Omoruyi, a 6-10 center from New Jersey, has taken an official visit to Auburn and is considering the Tigers. JT Thor, a 6-9 power forward from Norcross (Georgia) High, looks to be a possibility as well.
There is no way the Tigers are going to land all four of these high school seniors, even if they all want to come because Auburn will have, at most, three scholarships available if Okoro heads for the NBA and just two if he doesn’t.
If the Tigers can add any of these guys to the roster, it would make a strong recruiting class a potentially special one.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter