Hoover, Ala.--While the college basketball focuses on the NCAA Tournament, the Auburn Tigers and Coach Bruce Pearl are working towards getting the program to that level after a disappointing 2015-16 season. The biggest way to do that is recruiting top-notch talent to the Plains.
Even though he’s still got another year of high school basketball left, five-star center Austin Wiley is a player who has the talent to help Auburn reach that level when he arrives in the fall of 2017. Back on campus last Saturday along with his mother and former Auburn All-American basketball center Vickie Orr, Wiley said even though the program hasn’t turned around just yet he’s sure it’s right around the corner.
“They convinced me from day one,” Wiley said. “No matter how bad the circumstances or the things come up, they still stick to their game plan. I never hear them down even though things aren’t going the best. That’s what I respect.”
Spending the day around campus and also taking in a baseball game with Auburn Associate Head Coach Chuck Person, Wiley said it was just nice to be back to a place he calls home.
“It just feels good to be back in town,” Wiley said. “I like the fun and the people just make me feel like I’m home. I got to see B.P. also so it was a good day.”
That bond with Person is one thing that Wiley keeps coming back to. With the their families very close with his dad and former Auburn forward Aubrey Wiley a cousin from Brantley, Wiley said the chemistry he’s built with Person is something very special for him.
“It’s just good because we’ve built an important relationship that pretty much got me there for real,” Wiley said. “I just enjoy his company.”
Wiley and mom Vickie Orr sit talk with Chuck Person
Saying that he’s hoping to improve his shooting, ball-handling, and his post moves as he prepares for his senior season, one of the things that is high on Wiley’s list is getting bigger and stronger. It’s something he did a good job of between his sophomore and junior seasons, but with college just around the corner he knows that’s an important part of the game for him.
Something else it will help with is injuries, which have been a problem for him the last few years as he’s continued to grow. Most recently it was a high ankle sprain that happened at the worst possible time for Wiley as his Spain Park team was playing Central-Phenix City in the Class 7A semi-finals. Falling to the Red Devils to end the hopes of a state title, Wiley said he and his teammates are using that as motivation in preparation for his final year.
While he’s working on his game this offseason Wiley is also working on helping the Auburn Tigers reach that goal of making the NCAA Tournament. Already with four-star point guard Davion Mitchell in his class and an incoming class of five-star Mustapha Heron, four-star Jared Harper and three-star Anfernee McLemore ready to help out next season, he said the goal is to keep the talent coming to Auburn and turn things around for good.
“I’m just building relationships with people in my grade,” Wiley said. “I’m trying to get them here and convince them that this is a winning program even though it’s not like that right now. We want to come in and just change that. I want to make them feel at home like they made me feel at home.”