Well, in a year full of bad things happening to Auburn basketball, things didn't get any better, tonight. Kareem Canty - suspended "indefinitely" by Bruce Pearl prior to last Saturday's Georgia game - has announced that he's leaving the program and going to the NBA.
This is a bit early for that type of announcement. The NBA isn't even at the All-Star Break. College Basketball hasn't reached the conference tournaments. Still, Canty is done. His reasoning isn't mentioned in his more detailed Instagram post on the matter. He thanked the school and Coach Pearl. I can only imagine that he may have been told that he wasn't going to come back this season and decided he didn't want to put in the effort to sit and wait until next year. That's pure speculation on my part.
So what does this mean for Auburn?
The 2015/16 Season
If this season wasn't already going down in flames, it certainly is now. There was always a chance that with Canty back and TJ Dunans healthy, Auburn could make a run through the SEC Tournament. They've proven they can hang with people and can even take down teams like Kentucky without Dunans. Having him back could have been a big spark.
Now, without Canty and with Tyler Harris dealing with some back issues, it's hard to imagine the Tigers being able to do much of anything. There are capable players, such as Bryce Brown, but the depth just isn't there to make a real run. Brown has shown the ability to shoot as well as Canty when he gets hot, but he's still young and getting into foul trouble quickly. Canty did at times, too, but with both of them it wasn't as much of a worry.
I hate talking so much about next year when there are still seven games to go in the regular season, but here we are. This season is pretty much down the drain at this point. That doesn't mean give up on the team and quit supporting them, though. The effort the fans put into supporting this team going forward this season could mean a great deal to the returning players next season.
The 2016/17 Season
Canty likely wasn't going to be running point next year. That job likely will go to star recruit Jared Harper. If you haven't watched his film, you really need to. He is going to be something special. Canty would have moved over to another position, which would have been good for him.
One thing this does do for Auburn is free up another scholarship. It's possible the Tigers could sign another player in the spring signing period, now. Whether that's a freshman or a graduate transfer or JUCO, I'm not sure. I'd almost prefer they go after another freshman vs any type of transfer, but I haven't looked too closely at who is available. I'm also not sure who may be available on the grad transfer market after this season.
This does put a bit of a damper on next season when it comes to scoring. I was really looking forward to the prospect of Brown, Harper, and Canty on the court at the same time. It makes me feel a bit better about the team chemistry, though. A source very close to coaches and players with Auburn's basketball team told me about Canty's attitude issues before the season began. I was hoping they wouldn't matter, but apparently they did. I don't know if this affected team chemistry in any way, but people who have attitude issues do generally have a negative affect on others.
I really wish Kareem the best. I hope he makes it in the NBA and does great things. He has a ton of talent with that three point shot of his. I don't know that he's quite ready to make it in the pros, though. I hope he does, though.
For Auburn basketball, things go on. We'll continue watching and pulling for the Tigers. They'll keep fighting hard and doing the best they can. It's hard to expect too much from a team so injury depleted and now down a player due to other issues. We know and they know. They still keep fighting, though. Keep giving them every bit of support you have. I promise the future is bright.