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Class of 2020 Basketball Recruiting Preview

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A look at some potential future Auburn Tigers

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Auburn vs North Carolina Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With a big recruiting weekend on the horizon for Auburn, I thought it would be a really good time to give you guys a look at some of the prospects Auburn are looking at for 2020.

Now that the immediate sting of the way last season ended has worn off, and we know who will/will not be on the roster for Auburn next year, it’s time to start looking at the future of Auburn Basketball.

While recruiting for 2019 is all but over (Auburn seems to still be pursuing 1 more player for next year’s roster), it’s time to start looking ahead to recruiting in 2020. We now live in an age where top recruits are interested in playing for Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers. Imagine saying top recruits and Auburn Basketball in the same sentence 2-3 years ago.

Looking at next year’s Auburn roster, it will be comprised of 5 seniors, 5 freshmen and a sophomore. Anfernee McLemore, Danjel Purifoy, Austin Wiley, J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty will all be seniors on next year’s roster. Then of course you have Isaac Okoro, Tyrell “Turbo” Jones, Allen Flanigan, Jaylin Williams and Babatunde “Stretch” Akingbola coming in as freshmen. The sophomore is Jamal Johnson who becomes eligible after transferring in from Memphis and sitting out last season.

So in essence, the 2020-2021 roster will have at least 5-6 available spots which means Auburn can offer prospective players the opportunity to come in and make an immediate impact. To give you an idea of the level of talent Auburn is actively recruiting right now, it’s worth noting that 3 of the players we’re going to talk about today will try out for FIBA’s Under 19 World Cup Team: Sharife Cooper, Walker Kessler and Nimari Burnett. Incoming freshmen Isaac Okoro will also be trying out for this team as well. The event will be held in Greece June 29-July 7.

This weekend on the Plains is Big Cat Weekend and while that is traditionally thought of as a big Auburn football recruiting weekend, it may be just as big if not bigger recruiting weekend for Auburn Basketball.

Here’s a quick disclaimer: I’m going to talk about 10 different players here today but keep in mind that Auburn is also in on several other guys that I haven’t listed here.

Sharife Cooper - Point Guard, 5’11”, 165 pounds

McEachern High School - Powder Springs, Georgia

15th on Rivals Top 150 Prospect List

Schools Considering: Auburn, Kentucky

Cooper is the prized recruit for Auburn’s 2020 class. He of course played on the same high school team as incoming Auburn freshmen Isaac Okoro. At this point, it seems to be a battle between Auburn and Kentucky for Cooper who won several National Player of the Year awards this year as a Junior. It’s scary to think how much better Cooper will get before ending up on a college campus too. He’s definitely trending towards Auburn but until he commits and signs here, Bruce Pearl will have to fend off John Calipari. There was talk awhile back that he may reclassify to the 2019 class but at this point, you can expect to not see him on a college campus until 2020. Getting a guy like Cooper would be a game-changer for Auburn. When asked about Auburn, and how he may fit here, here were his thoughts.

“I love the way he treats his point guards, how they are able to facilitate and really control the game. That’s kind of what he wants me to do when...if...if I go there.” -Cooper

If Auburn can land Cooper, and do it quickly, he could potentially help land some of the other targets that Auburn is currently in hot pursuit of. He’ll be in Auburn this weekend as part of Big Cat Weekend.

Greg Brown - Shooting Forward, 6’7”, 190 pounds

Vandegrift HS - Austin, Texas

6th on Rivals Top 150 Prospect List

Schools Considering: Auburn, Baylor, Kansas, Memphis, LSU, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech

Bruce Pearl visited Brown at his home awhile back and has seen him at multiple AAU events across the country. Bigger news broke on Wednesday when it was reported that Brown would visit on June 5th, next Wednesday.

Texas and North Carolina seem to be the frontrunners for Brown but it certainly sounds like Auburn is gaining momentum here. Let’s be honest: the fact Auburn is even in the running for a Top 10 recruit speaks to how far Auburn Basketball has come. He’s been compared to Kevin Durant in some circles. Imagine having a KD-type player on campus, even for only a year.

B.J. Boston Jr. - Shooting Guard, 6’6”, 175 pounds

Norcross High School - Norcross, Georgia

7th on Rivals Top 150 Prospect List

Schools Considering: Auburn, Duke, Florida, Kentucky

Boston is AAU teammates with Sharife Cooper and will join Cooper this weekend in Auburn on a visit for Big Cat Weekend. Boston made his cut to his Final 4 schools recently and Auburn made the cut. I think Auburn is a little behind the other schools for Boston right now but if Auburn lands Cooper, that can only help the Tigers cause to get Boston as well. The fact that both will be on campus this weekend is a good sign.

Walker Kessler - Center, 7’0”, 235 pounds

Woodward Academy - College Park, Georgia

18th on Rivals Top 150 Prospect List

Schools Considering: Auburn, Georgia, California, Virginia, Tennessee, Duke and others

Kessler is a Georgia legacy kid, which in theory would make him most likely Athens bound. But perhaps Walker decides to build his own legacy elsewhere, Auburn would be a heckuva landing spot with guys like Austin Wiley and Anfernee McLemore graduating after next year. Kessler was here for the Kentucky game and Bruce Pearl had an in-home visit with him on April 29th. Some big news from last Friday was that Kessler announced he will be taking his last official visit as a junior to Auburn this weekend. While Georgia is probably the favorite, keep an eye on Gonzaga and California who have entered the picture here recently. Cal is where former Georgia coach Mark Fox has landed so we’ll see if that gets Kessler out to Berkeley.

Nimari Burnett - Shooting Guard, 6’4”, 180 pounds

Prolific Prep - Napa, California

25th on Rivals Top 150 Prospect List

Schools Considering: Auburn, Illinois, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, and many others

Burnett recently picked up an offer from Auburn after faring well in an AAU tournament against the likes of Cooper and Boston. Burnett’s interest in Auburn is mutual and we’ll see if the Tigers can get Burnett on campus for a visit. Burnett has flown up the Rivals charts in the last months and continues to receive offers from schools. Burnett has no clear list of schools that are favored to get him at the moment.

Jayden Stone - Combo Guard, 6’3”, 170 pounds

Sunrise Christian Academy - Wichita, Kansas

48th on Rivals Top 150 Prospect List

Schools Considering: Auburn, Tennessee, Georgetown, Louisville, Alabama, Arkansas, Oregon and many others

Stone was born in Perth, Australia but came to the United States a few years ago to improve his game. Stone has been one of Auburn’s primary targets for this class and attended the Kentucky game this past year. He played at Sacred Heart School in Anniston the last 2 years but will have a new home next year as he’ll play his final year of high school ball in Kansas.

Jaylin Williams - Power Forward, 6’9”, 220 pounds

Northside High School - Fort Smith, Arkansas

100th on Rivals Top 150 Prospect List

Schools Considering: Auburn, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, TCU, Illinois and others

No, we’re not talking about the Jaylin Williams coming to Auburn this year, we’re talking about Arkansas native Jaylin Williams. Auburn offered him a scholarship on May 1st and it sounds like he’s very interested in visiting the Plains. The Fort Smith native is being pursued by Arkansas, Oklahoma State and TCU as well. He is AAU teammates with Chris Moore who we talked about earlier. It’s clear that the addition of Wes Flanigan to the staff is playing off for Auburn, particularly in recruiting the state of Arkansas and the Memphis area.

Chris Moore - Power Forward, 6’6”, 210 pounds

West Memphis Senior High - West Memphis, Arkansas

132nd on Rivals Top 150 Prospect List

Schools Considering: Auburn, Arkansas, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Arkansas State, Florida, and many others

Chris Moore is a name to watch for Auburn fans to watch in the coming months. Bruce Pearl along with Wes Flanigan visited Moore about a month ago and the Tigers seem to be gaining ground on other schools. He visited Auburn last year and plans on returning again this year. While Auburn is one of about 20 schools Moore is currently considering, he’s one record saying that Auburn will be one of his Top 5 schools. While the home state Razorbacks will be tough to beat, Moore’s relationship with Wes Flanigan could ultimately be the difference in luring Moore away from the Memphis area to come play on the Plains.

Rongie Gordon - Center, 6’8”, 225 pounds

Jeff Davis High School - Montgomery, Alabama

N/A on Rivals Top 150 Prospect List

Schools Considering: Auburn, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Florida, UAB, Ole Miss, Texas A&M

Gordon is another player who will visit Auburn this weekend. He’s also scheduled to visit Alabama on Monday. While Rivals currently considers him a 3-star prospect, Gordon’s stock has risen lately with his play on the AAU circuit. He is one of the top prospects from Alabama in next year’s class. Auburn has the advantage of being the closest school to home for him and it sounds like he has a lot of Anfernee McLemore in his game.

Justin Powell - Shooting Guard, 6’5”, 175 pounds

North Oldham High School - Goshen, Kentucky

N/A on Rivals Top 150 Prospect List

Schools Considering: Auburn, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Xavier, Georgia Tech, Tennessee

Imagine Auburn picking up a guy from Kentucky’s backyard. I bring up Powell because he will be in Auburn this weekend as well. He’s from the Louisville area but spent time playing at the prestigious Montverde Academy in Florida before returning to Kentucky at the end of 2018. While on the EYBL Circuit, he was 11-20 from 3-point range for his AAU team. Having a guy like Powell who can confidently knock down the 3 would be a great addition to Bruce Pearl’s offense. It sounds like Kentucky, Xavier and Georgia Tech are pursuing him the most but we’ll see what comes from his visit to Auburn this weekend.

Several players from the 2021 class will also be in Auburn this weekend as well. Overall, this is setting up to be a massive weekend for the future of Auburn Basketball. If Auburn could get at least 3 of these guys, the recruiting class would be one of the best in the country. Perhaps we get our first “BOOM” for the 2020 class this weekend? We’ll just have to wait and see but it’s hard not to be excited for the future of this program. War Eagle!