This evening it was announced that Austin Wiley was ruled ineligible for the remainder of the 2017-2018 season, but that he’ll be able to come back for next year at Auburn. Check out the hot sheets.
Auburn center Austin Wiley ruled out remainder of season, eligible to return in 2018-19 https://t.co/FFWjMm7eqM— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) January 11, 2018
Big news from Auburn basketball: Austin Wiley ruled out by NCAA for entire 2017-18 season, eligible for 2018-19 https://t.co/GRe14Tve8I— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) January 11, 2018
.@MGMAdvertiser BREAKING NEWS: Auburn center @__Austinwiley50 ruled ineligible for the 2017-18 season but can return next season; Auburn has yet to apply for reinstatement for @DanjelKevon3 - https://t.co/VEYlPeeOIv pic.twitter.com/6iEkH6eYCS— Matthew Stevens (@matthewcstevens) January 11, 2018
The 6’11 center averaged nearly nine points and five rebounds per game last season before the sting of the FBI investigation took hold and ruled him out indefinitely. Now, it’s definite. The rest of the year. Okay. We can deal with this.
While Wiley entered school midway through last season, his impact was significant, providing muscle and size in the middle and giving Auburn a post presence that it hadn’t seen in some years. Now, we’ll definitely be without that for the remainder of the season.
Maybe this will end up being a blessing in disguise. Remember when Kelvin Benjamin got ruled out for the year with an injury and Cam Newton led the Panthers to the Super Bowl? It’s because with Benjamin out, Cam and the rest of the offense had to grow together as a unit and learn to improve themselves.
It’s not a stretch to say that this Auburn team has done something similar. The difference from last year to this one for guys like Anfernee McLemore, Desean Murray, and Chuma Okeke (all forwards) is so tangible. This team plays with cohesion, and grit, and character. We’re seeing something special in a team that’s finding itself, growing within itself, and projecting upward ever more with each passing game.
Who’s to say that the insertion of Austin Wiley would help them? There’s no denying his talent, and his probable impact as a bonafide center, but the dynamic of the team right now is hardening. It’s becoming an identity, but it might still be fragile. Yes, Wiley and Purifoy have been practicing with the team, but they haven’t been on the floor in a game situation. We might be better off seeing what this can become without them and bring in the new element next season. We’ll have literally everybody back and that could be something really special.
Or I could be way off. Wiley’s strengths could be something that ends up taking this team to new heights. We won’t know this year.
On the other hand, the status of Danjel Purifoy is still unknown. According to the articles above, Purifoy’s reinstatement hasn’t been applied for by the University, and so we may yet see the impact of the sophomore that averaged double digits last season for Bruce Pearl.