Well it’s finally here. An end has come to the beginning of the Bruce Pearl era at Auburn. To say that Auburn Basketball is in a better place than it has ever been, is somehow still a huge understatement. Coach Pearl is obviously a huge reason for this, but there are a few other guys who should always be remembered for what they’ve done for Auburn.
I want to recognize all four of our seniors from the first full senior class of the Bruce Pearl Era. Each one has contributed to Auburn in some way that has helped to build the foundation that will hopefully continue to be built upon for years to come.
Cole, I’ll never forget you coming oh-so-close to winning the Three Point Contest your Freshman year. At first I scoffed at the idea this big, obviously post playing dude was even competing, and then you just kept making them. I’ve been waiting ever since for you to launch one up during a game. Few will know just how hard you worked for this team. You had to play a different role in practice each week to help prepare your teammates for the challenges ahead. You had to practice, you have to train, you had to work with the knowledge that it would be unlikely that you would even get to see the court outside of warming up. That is sacrifice. I know your teammates know what you’ve meant to this program, but I just wanted you know know that we, the fans, know too. Thank you for the last four years.
Malik, you’ve only been with us for a couple of years, but I have to tell you, you’ve soared to the top of my favorite Auburn players list. Your junior year had its ups and downs. You had the ability to be ridiculously explosive or frustrating for us fans (and I’m sure even more so yourself) at times. We could always tell there was a monster jam just lurking, waiting to be unleashed. This led me to start calling, basically anything you did “Classic Malik”. Then came this year. You took on a larger role, getting more minutes, giving us a crucial lift off the bench at time times, starting games, and ALWAYS bringing the energy. Everything seemed to fall into place this season and you have not only been a major contributor through your smothering defense, highlight-reel worthy blocks, dagger threes, and oh yes, explosive dunks, but you’re positive attitude at all times has been a boon to both your teammates and fans alike. Thank you for being you. Thank you for choosing Auburn, and thank you for being Classic Malik.
Bryce, I don’t really know how to do this. I’ve been to nearly every single one of your home games for the last 4 years. I’ve witnessed your ups and your downs, your frustrations and your triumphs. Everyone knows what you’ve accomplished at Auburn. One of the things that makes college sports fun is also one of the things that makes it hard. We, the fans, get to watch you, the players, grow and change and improve for four years, but then you have to move on. I can think of no one better than you that exemplifies this. Watching you go from a talented, yet often times frustrated kid into the man you are today has been a pure joy to witness. You are one of a kind. Your name will now have a place of honor among not just Auburn Basketball greats, but Auburn greats in any sport. You came to a place that had no real basketball history and through sheer force of will, hard work, and perseverance you not only laid a foundation for the future, but took Auburn to the greatest heights it has ever reached. The joy you have brought to fans in these four years can never be repaid. Thank you, for absolutely everything.
Last, but most certainly not least, Horace Spencer. You came to Auburn, much like your teammates Bryce and Danjel, when it was at its lowest of lows. You had a lot of options as a highly rated recruit, but you chose to build something instead. And build it you did. I remember watching you at the Pearl Jam pre-season fan event your freshman year and noting just how much fun you were having. That exuberance was infectious, and you retained it throughout your career at Auburn. Like everyone, you have had your ups and downs these last four years, but you have always given everything you had for your team. Your leadership, especially the last two years, has been invaluable. Your tireless work ethic and selflessness has been inspiring. I can think of no one who embodies the ideal of being an Auburn Man more than you. You have helped to lay a foundation for Auburn’s future. We won’t have any more like you, guys that take a chance to build something out of nothing, because you and your teammates already did that. What you have done is shifted the state of Auburn basketball. You’ve taken us further than most of us fans could have ever imagined possible. There will be guys that come to Auburn now because they know they can win trophies. They know Auburn can beat the blue bloods. They know Auburn can make it to the Final Four. All because of you. Thank you Horace, we will never forget you.
To all of you and the rest of your teammates, know that we are all so proud of you. You have brought a lot of joy to so many people. You did what you set out to do, you made history. War Eagle Forever.