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Boom! Boom! Boom! - Auburn Basketball Roster Set

Now that we know who will be in Auburn next year, what’s next?

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina at Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! And with that, Auburn’s Basketball Roster is pretty much set.

Yesterday was one wild and crazy day for Auburn Basketball fans. We all had our opinions of who would stay and who might go and yet I don’t think most people foreshadowed what turned into the actual outcome. Jared Harper and Bryce Brown returning was no surprise. We had thought for awhile that Mustapha Heron would be leaving to pursue a professional career, and then news that he was 50-50 on returning gave Tiger fans a bit of hope that he would forego the pros and come back. But yesterday’s news of Heron transferring came out of left field. Having said that, after hearing the reason was his desire to be closer to his sick mother, we should all understand and respect his decision.

A couple of schools I’ve heard on this front so far are UConn, St. John’s and Fairfield. I hope the NCAA grants him a hardship waiver so he won’t have to sit for a year. He could be a force in the MAAC with Fairfield it he elects to go the mid-major route. Or he could go to UConn, and be a big piece in the rebuilding process in Storrs. Or he could go to St. John’s where they heavily rely on transfers and try to get the Red Storm back to the NCAA tournament. St. John’s has a proud basketball tradition but only 2 NCAA Tournament appearances since 2002. Or he could something totally different but the bottom line is this: we wish Mustapha the best in the next chapter of life and basketball career and we will always pull for you Mustapha!

Update: Heron’s first official visit will be to St. John’s.

And then there’s Austin Wiley. I for one, was really hoping that Tiger fans would get a full year to see what Wiley could do and now, we’ll get it. This gives Auburn a legitimate big guy in the paint next year, which is something that last year’s team sorely lacked. It also helps that Wiley will be extremely motivated after the events of last year so look out college basketball: The Austin Wiley Revenge Tour is Coming Soon to an Arena near you! If Wiley didn’t return, next year’s was going to be really good. Now, I think this team is going to be great. So now that we know who remains, let’s look at a possible starting lineup.

Point Guard - Jared Harper

Shooting Guard - Bryce Brown

Shooting Forward - Danjel Purifoy

Power Forward - Anfernee McLemore

Center - Austin Wiley

This would be my starting 5 once Purifoy returns from suspension, which is 8-9 games I believe. My first thought is: this is a scary starting lineup. In fact, I think Purifoy is the one player that has the most to prove. First off, he will need to prove that he can step up to try to replace the production lost by Heron. He has plenty of motivation after having to sit for 2 of the 3 seasons he has been on the Plains. Purifoy got hurt early in SEC play back in 2016-2017 and really struggled the rest of the year. I really hope we can see what a healthy Purifoy can do on the court. I think we will probably see Purifoy around early to mid December and I wouldn’t be surprised if his debut is December 8th against Dayton at Auburn Arena.

Now, the other position where the starter could be questioned is at the 4 spot. I have to wonder if Auburn will bring McLemore along slowly considering the nature of his injury but he seems to be improving every day so that’s a good sign. You will definitely see Chuma Okeke get minutes at the 4 spot and perhaps at the 3, especially early in the season if Auburn elects to go with a big lineup. Another person that may crack the starting lineup before Purifoy returns is Samir Doughty. While Doughty is thought of as the team’s primary backup guard, I wonder if Bruce would put him out there with Bryce and Jared to go with a 3 guard look. That’s the beauty of this team, the lineup possibilities are endless! And I haven’t even mentioned the other two seniors on this team, Horace Spencer and Malik Dunbar. They will both likely come off the bench to provide depth behind Wiley (in Horace’s case) and Purifoy (in Malik’s case).

Now that Coach Pearl knows who he has next year, I can’t help but wonder if he won’t try to add one more piece to next year’s roster, perhaps another guard. I feel like that is the one trouble spot for Auburn if Harper and/or Brown get into foul trouble in a game next year. This remains to be seen and perhaps we’ll know something on this soon.

One other thing I’m looking forward to seeing is the full schedule for next year. This is what we’ve got so far:

  • November 19th, 20th, 21st at the Maui Invitational

(We’ll play 3 of Duke, Arizona, Gonzaga, Illinois, Iowa State, San Diego State, Xavier)

  • December 8th vs. Dayton
  • December 19th at North Carolina State
  • TBD: UAB, Murray State, South Alabama

The SEC schedule usually comes out in mid to late August but I’m hoping we get a home-and-home with 2 of the Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida. Florida and Tennessee should come to Auburn this year since they didn’t last year but we will see about Kentucky.

Also, I hope we get a Home & Home starting in Auburn with another Power 5 school to bolster our non-conference schedule. Perhaps a Big 12 school since we’re not in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. I know we’ll learn more about the schedule as the summer rolls along.

To close, I wasn’t around 20 years ago in the Chris Porter days of Auburn Basketball but I can’t imagine there has been more hype for an Auburn Basketball season then there will be for this upcoming season. This will probably be a Preseason Top 10 team. Now, it’s up to the guys to take care of Unfinished Business and to quote Bryce Brown go “Ring Chasin” once again. War Eagle!