Basketball season begins tomorrow night with the first official game vs UAB, but there's things to be excited about for next season, too. Auburn has signed or is expected to sign three people in the fall signing period for college basketball. The jewel of that class is 5* Mustapha Heron.
If you want to know why Bruce Pearl won't be on the hot seat for a while, this is why. Tony Barbee left Auburn's roster in shambles. This year's squad is a step forward, but as recruiting classes like this one pour in, things are only going to get better for the Tigers.
There's a chance Auburn is not finish. These are the ones we're tracking right this moment, but Auburn may still bring in another player for the class. Whether that's during this fall signing period or the spring period remains to be seen. Let's take a look at those who will be joining Auburn's 2016/17 basketball team.
Twitter account HoopSeen Alabama was the first to say that one of the member's of Auburn's 2016 recruiting class has signed with the Tigers as of yesterday. I waited for publishing anything on it until the official site and account confirmed it, although Ryan Black of AuburnUndercover reported it yesterday afternoon.
2016 PF Anfernee McLemore signed with Auburn this morning. Mustapha Heron & Jared Harper will sign with the Tigers Thursday #WarEagle— HoopSeen Alabama (@HoopSeenAL) November 11, 2015
Auburn only has three people committed for the 2016 class, but this is only the early signing period. There's a chance they could pick up another big man in the spring signing period.
Here is our initial comments on him when he committed to the Tigers. At the time, he was unrated by a number of services. Now he shows up as a composite 3* by 247Sports, the #55 Power Forward in the nation and #13 recruit in the state of Georgia. ESPN even calls him a 4*, so I'll take that. He's 6'8, 210 pounds, and should provide a welcome big body to the rotation. That's very important to the Tigers as Cinmeon Bowers is a senior this season.
Auburn announces it has signed 5-star 6-foot-5 guard Mustapha Heron from Waterbury, Conn. Averaged 22 points a game last season.— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) November 12, 2015
Heron joins the class as the highest rated player to sign with Auburn basketball in quite some time. He's a composite 5*, the #2 athlete in his state and the Composite 5th best strong forward in the nation.
At 6'5, 200 lbs, he's not exactly huge, but that height and weight isn't anything to laugh at, either. What does head coach Bruce Pearl think about him?
Bruce Pearl says Mustapha Heron signee is "a program-changer, not because he's a 5-star, he's an incredible young man. Absolute role model."— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) November 12, 2015
You can see our initial article on his commitment in August, here. As you can imagine, we were really excited about him. It's not often that Auburn signs five star recruits in basketball. Now Auburn has signed one and has another committed for next season.
Update: The official site has now made it, well, official:
Finishing out the class is 4* (previously a 3*) Jared Harper. He says that he signed this evening. We really didn't have much on Harper when he committed last March. He lit up some of the summer leagues, though. He was the Co-MVP of one tournament. That tournament is one of the reasons why he saw such a jump in the rankings. He's not that tall (only 5'11, 155 lbs), but he's definitely an excellent shooter.
The school hasn't officially sent out the confirmation that Harper has signed. However, Harper himself tweeted that he signed. It may be a case similar to McLemore's. Auburn was waiting on some final NCAA paperwork to make his signing official. Harper's could be something as simple as he signed after everyone went home and they'll tweet it in the morning. I'm including him based on his tweet that he signed and sent the paper work. I'll update this article when the official word comes. I wanted to get this out tonight, because tomorrow is going to be slam full of articles for football and basketball as it is.
As noted above, it's official, now. Harper is a part of the 2016 recruiting class. And, as pointed out in the comments below, just watch this video and marvel at the way he shoots the ball. Now think of him being tutored by The Rifleman. I think very good days are ahead for Auburn basketball.
As noted earlier, that's pretty much a wrap for what we know or expect right now. As of publishing this, the class ranks as 16th in the nation and 4th in the SEC with just these three guys on board. There's still the chance the Tigers could add more, but we'll wait and see. It might be spring before we know for sure.