clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bruce Pearl has the No. 1 recruiting class in the country at Auburn

Auburn has never been known for its hoops program, but Pearl is trying to change that.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Let's just get this out of the way up front: Auburn basketball won't finish with the best recruiting class in the country. Duke has pulled in the top class two of the last three years and Coach K hasn't signed anyone for 2017 yet. Kentucky hasn't finished lower than No. 2 in the recruiting rankings since Billy Gillispie was the coach in 2008. John Calipari hasn't landed anyone for his next class yet, either.

None of that changes the fact that what Bruce Pearl is doing on the recruiting trail right now is pretty incredible. After locking in four-star forward Chuma Okeke from Fairburn, Ga. this weekend, 247 Sports now has Auburn with the No. 1 class for 2017. Let this wash over you for a second:

crooting

This is at Auburn, a program that hasn't made the NCAA Tournament in 13 years. This is at Auburn, a program that hasn't finished with a winning record since 2009. This is at Auburn, a team that hasn't won the SEC regular season crown since 1999 and hasn't won the postseason tournament since 1985.

Bruce Pearl is building something right now that deserves to be appreciated.

Okeke is Pearl's fourth commit in the class of 2017. All three players are ranked in the top 60 of their class by ESPN. Pearl now has one player at each position group. Okeke can play either forward spot at 6'8, 220 pounds and is known for his ability to score with "slashes, floaters and pull ups in the halfcourt," per ESPN. Davion Mitchell is a 6'2 point guard with great speed and quickness. And then there's Austin Wiley, the crown jewel of the class.

Wiley is a 6'9, 250-pound center from Birmingham, Ala. rated as the No. 19 prospect in the country by ESPN. He's a tough rebounder and scorer on the inside and is quick off the floor for a player with his size. He measured at a 7'4.5 wingspan with USA Basketball, where he helped the U17 team win gold earlier this summer. Wiley has had some injury issues in his young career, but he can be a monster inside for Auburn if he stays healthy.

Pearl's 2017 class follows the nation's No. 15 class last year led by shooting guard Mustapha Heron. Heron might have been the best player in the class of 2016 who wasn't invited to the McDonald's All-American Game or Jordan Brand Classic. He has great size for an off-guard at 6'5, 200 pounds and is considered a relentless attacker. The Tigers' 2016 class also includes 5'11 point guard Jared Harper, who cracked the back end of the top 100 as well.

The one major concern for Auburn moving forward right now appears to be shooting. Okeke finished his season on the EYBL only 1-for-13 from three-point range and Heron struggles with his shot, too. Mitchell -- a 37.5 percent three-point shooter in the EYBL -- will be counted on to stretch the floor as well as run the offense.

For Pearl, all of that is a secondary concern at the moment. Getting talent is the first step, and Pearl has done that. Now it's time for Auburn basketball to begin winning. They're off to a good start.