While Auburn brought most of last year’s team back for this season, there’s going to be several new faces on next year’s roster. The same can be said for 2020 as I expect an entirely new roster by then.
If you listened to this week’s episode of the Orange and True podcast, highly recommended by the way, Chief, Crow and Ryan talked a bit about basketball recruiting. With the 2019 class all but complete, barring an unexpected signing, it’s time to set our sights on 2020. Auburn looks to bring in it’s best recruiting class of all-time this upcoming year headlined by Isaac Okoro. Okoro is the 37th ranked player in 2019 but Auburn is aiming higher in 2020. While there are several players on Auburn’s radar at the moment, here are the 5 players I hear the most about and are to watch in the upcoming year. Also, the fact that we’re even having this conversation is a testament to what Bruce Pearl has built here over the last 5 years.
Sharife Cooper - Point Guard
6’0” 160 pounds, McEachern High School - Powder Springs, Georgia
Top 2: Auburn, Kentucky
Not only do you get to watch Sharife Cooper (#2) but there’s some Isaac Okoro highlights as well (#35).
It’s going to be a battle between Auburn and Kentucky for this kid. While only at 6 feet tall, he’s a bit shorter than most guards but Auburn’s done just fine having Jared Harper fill that role the last 3 years. He was slated to visit Kentucky on Saturday but he didn’t make the trip. In regards to Kentucky, I’ve heard the Cats want him to commit sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Auburn’s been recruiting this kid for a few years and he would come in as Jared Harper is slated to graduate (if he comes back for his senior year). As I mentioned before, Cooper is a high school teammate of Isaac Okoro so the allure of playing together puts Auburn at an advantage here. Cooper has to be Auburn’s #1 target for this class at the moment. He’s the 18th best player available according to 24/7 and has been talked about as a National Player of the Year, as a junior. He’s put up multiple 40 point games for his high school on an undefeated high school team that’s one of the best in the country. Cooper has been compared to Chris Paul by some scouts. He’s been trending Auburn for awhile but you can never count out Kentucky.
Brandon Boston Jr. - Shooting Guard
6’6” 175 pounds, Norcross High School, Norcross, Georgia
Top 6: Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio State
Boston Jr. was supposed to visit during the Alabama game but had to postpone his visit. I haven’t seen or heard if/when he’s coming back to Auburn but I think Duke is the odds on favorite for this kid. He’s 9th overall in the rankings and visited Kentucky this weekend while Auburn was in town and Coach Cal offered him a scholarship while on the visit. Still, for Auburn to be in the running for guys like Boston is a testament to how far this program has come in the last 5 years.
Greg Brown - Power Forward
6’9” 195 pounds, Vandegrift High School, Austin, Texas
Top 10: Auburn, Baylor, Kansas, LSU, Memphis, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech
I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Brown so it came as a mild surprise to see Auburn listed in his Top 10 when it was released last week. Brown is the 6th best player available right now and the best Power Forward on the 2020 market. Based on what I’ve heard and read, I feel like he’s going to stay in the Big 12, either at home with Texas or off to Kansas but we’ll see how his recruitment unfolds.
Walker Kessler - Center
6’10” 225 pounds, Woodward Academy, Fairburn, Georgia
Top 9: Auburn, Duke, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia
Kessler is the 16th best player available and another Atlanta area-kid. Kessler is like Austin Wiley in the sense that he’s a legacy kid. Kessler’s dad, brother, and uncle all played at Georgia so the Bulldogs have an advantage on that front. Bruce Pearl was in attendance for his game last Thursday but ultimately, I think he’ll end up at either Duke or Georgia with Virginia being a wild card.
Jayden Stone - Shooting Guard
6’3”, 175 pounds, Sacred Heart Catholic School, Anniston, Alabama
This is a young man Auburn fans should pay more attention to going forward. He’s originally from Australia but is attending prep school up the road in Anniston. He’s the top player from Alabama in 2020 and Bruce Pearl has attended a couple of Stone’s games here over the past week so he’s certainly high on the Tigers list. He was here for the Kentucky game as well. It looks pretty wide open where he may go right now but Auburn seems to be a slight favorite but Alabama and Tennessee are high on him as well. There are also other SEC and Big 12 schools interested in him as well.
Auburn's Bruce Pearl and Alabama associate coach John Pelphrey were at the Sacred Heart-Calhoun state semifinal game.— Grace Remington (@Grace_Remi) February 26, 2019
The top 2020 player in AL @jaydenstone says it's no pressure when the big guys are watching! #ahsaa #alpreps @shcardshoops #WarEagle pic.twitter.com/IJfGJlZ5WG
If anything changes, we’ll keep you updated on the recruiting front but tonight’s a big game for Auburn Basketball. War Eagle!