Tigers Add Juco Big Man

With room on the roster, the Auburn Tigers added an athletic big man from the juco ranks on Wednesday.

Gainesville, Fla.--Coach Jeff Lebo picked up a much needed interior player on Wednesday as Sante Fe Community College forward Francis Aihe signed with the Tigers. He also had interest from Clemson, Purdue, Texas A&M and several other schools. Sante Fe Coach Chris Mowry told Inside The Auburn Tigers that Auburn is getting a big guy with a lot of upside in Aihe.

"He's a really long, athletic player," Mowry said. "He really runs the floor well. He was really a big anchor for us the last two years defensively. He was a tremendous shot blocker and has great timing. He was a good rebounder for us. Our post players didn't particularly get the ball a lot to score, but he did a good job this year.

"He was our third leading scorer this year. He has the ability to shoot all the way out to the three-point line, he hit five threes this year, although that is a bit of a stretch for him. From 15 to 17 feet he's a pretty good shooter. He can face the basket and put the ball on the floor. He's a great teammate and very enthusiastic as everyone at Auburn will find out. He's a personable guy. There's nobody he meets that doesn't like him."

A 6-9, 215-pounder with athleticism and range, Aihe gives the Tigers a big body to help replace the departed Boubacar Sylla and Matt Heramb this season. A starter and key player for Santa Fe as the team finished the season 21-7, Aihe averaged 8.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and blocked 100 shots while playing an average of just over 20 minutes per game because of Mowry's style of playing 10 players a game. He shot 46.8 percent from the floor and 66 percent from the line.

As a freshman Aihe averaged 3.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while starting in six games at Santa Fe. Originally from Winter Park, Fla., he helped his team to the 6A Championship game as a senior and was named Honorable Mention All-State.

"He comes from a super high school program," Mowry said. "He played with Jeremiah Rivers, Doc's son who just left Georgetown and isn't sure where he'll wind up. A former Auburn great's son, Stan Pietkiewicz's son John, was also on the team with Francis and Jeremiah. They were kind of the big three at Winter Park High. Stan is really close with Francis. Probably other than his father and me would maybe be the male that is closest to Francis that he speaks with the most.

"Stan has had a lot to do with Francis and helping guide him through the whole recruiting process in high school. He was just a nice father figure to help him out when he had questions. I'm sure he's thrilled although I don't know if he knows it yet. If he hasn't called him yet he will. He'll be thrilled to know Francis is going up there."

Mowry said Aihe has two classes to finish up and if he takes care of business in those he should be ready to enter Auburn later this summer to get ready for next season.

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories