Two Freshmen Basketball Players to Transfer

Willy Kouassi's and Bernard Morena's high school coach explains why the freshmen are leaving Tony Barbee's team.

Auburn, Ala.--Two of Auburn's three freshmen on the 2011-2012 basketball team plan to transfer following spring semester, according to Darien Knox, their high school coach.

Center Willy Kouassi and forward Bernard Morena played together at Central Park Christian in Birmingham and will look for another college where the two can be teammates again, Knox said.

"I don't think they have any place specifically they want to go," Knox said. "They are going to see who comes at them, take their visits and then make a decision."

Kouassi, a 6-10 center, played in 25 games, all as a reserve, and averaged 10.2 minutes per game. He was 16-33 on field goals and 8-15 at the foul line. He averaged 1.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game while blocking 16 shots.

Kouassi's playing time decreased when the Tigers reached the SEC portion of the schedule. He played in just 10 of the conference games and averaged 6.9 minutes of action in those contests.

Morena, a six-foot-seven forward, was injured in the preseason and was redshirted. He had won praise from Coach Tony Barbee for his play in practice prior to the injury.

"They are going to try to find the right fit for style of play and playing time," Knox said of the pair who were foreign exchanges students at Central Park from the Ivory Coast. "They are going to try to find a place that fits them."

Bernard Morena

Knox said both players have enjoyed their time at Auburn and noted, "They are very appreciative of the coaching staff giving them a full release without any restrictions. That is kind of hard to get so kudos to Coach Barbee for that."

Kouassi takes a jump shot for the Tigers.

Asked why his former players decided to leave Barbee's program, Knox said, "I think it was the style of play and the limited minutes they received. Like any freshmen coming in to college to play in the SEC there are going to be a lot of adjustments.

"The guys love the administration and the faculty at Auburn," Knox said. "They love the students and the fans, but everything didn't click with them and the coaching staff so those guys wanted to exercise their right to find the right fit for them coaching staff-wise."

On Monday afternoon, Barbee said, "Obviously, I am disappointed that they decided to leave Auburn, but I have always said in this business, it is not about me or this program, it is about these players and what is best for them," said Barbee.

"The last two years, there have been over 400 players in Division I basketball who have transferred. The majority of the time is because it is not a fit one way or the other or from both sides. That is what we have here.

"They are great people, have great character, are great students and they are going to be fantastic basketball players in time if they continue to work and grow. We wish them nothing but the best of luck in wherever they wish to go in all of their future endeavors."

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