Auburn, Ala.--Looking for immediate rebounding and defensive help, the Auburn Tigers are adding a graduate transfer to their 2016-17 basketball roster who announced on Monday that he will play for Coach Bruce Pearl's squad.
LaRon Smith, who played two seasons at Georgia State and one at Bethune-Cookman, plans to enroll at Auburn for his final season of college hoops. He announced that decision on Monday afternoon, choosing the Tigers over Kansas State, Arkansas, Nevada, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Charlotte and Texas Tech.
"It was very important," he said of his official visit to Auburn over the weekend because he noted he developed a good feel for his future teammates and coaches spending a lot of time with them on the AU campus
"My mom and my cousin both did research on Auburn, and that helped me out a lot with my decision," he pointed out. "When I went on my visit it felt like a family--I felt like I was at home.
"What really stood out to be was for me being able to develop my game with Coach Chuck (Chuck Person), The Rifleman," he said of Auburn's associate head coach. "He told me that he was going to spend a lot of time working with me."
Smith said that he enjoyed spending time with Pearl and his family on his official visit and the players currently on the roster. "I have built a good bond with the team," he said.
A 6-8 1/2, 215-pound power forward, he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and finished third in the nation with his school-record 96 blocked shots. Nine times as a junior he blocked five or more shots.
His 58.5 percent field goal average led the MEAC for the 2015-16 season. At the foul line, however, he struggled, making just 13-49.
Smith, who took an official visit to Auburn this past weekend, posted a career-high 15 rebounds vs. Delaware State as a junior.
As a sophomore at Georgia State he averaged 1.1 points 0.8 rebounds while seeing action in 16 games. As a freshman he played in eight games and scored a total of seven points while adding seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
As a high school senior he averaged 16.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.6 blocks at Palm Bay, Fla., High.
Smith also played in three games for the U.S. Virgin Islands team averaging 4.4 points and 3.6 rebounds in 2014.
Another player who visited Auburn this past weekend also plans to transfer into Coach Bruce Pearl’s program. DeSean Murray, 6-5 forward, averaged 20.2 points and 7.4 rebounds as a sophomore in 2015-16 at Presbyterian.
The All-Big South Conference selection led that league in scoring. He will have to redshirt for the upcoming season and then will have two seasons of eligibility with the Tigers.
Last week the Tigers picked up a commitment from graduate transfer Ronnie Johnson, a six-foot, 180-pound point guard. He averaged 9.4 points and 2.9 assists during the 2015-16 season at the University of Houston and will be eligible to play this coming season for the Tigers.