Hoops Prospects Take Unofficial Visit to AU

A pair of talented Class of 2011 basketball prospects returned to Auburn to check out the Tigers.

Birmingham, Ala.--A pair of highly-regarded rising senior basketball players spent Thursday on the Auburn campus getting a better feel for the university and Coach Tony Barbee and his staff.

Willy Kouassi, a six-foot-nine post player, and Bernard Marena,a six-foot-seven small forward, made the trip to Auburn with their coach at Central Park Christian, Darien Knox. It was their second visit to Auburn. In June both were standouts at the Tony Barbee Elite Basketball Camp.

"Both players had a good time on their visit and are seriously looking at Auburn," Knox tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.

Marena agrees with his coach. "I enjoyed my visit very much," he says. "We got a tour of the campus and got to see more of the new arena. We also visited the new dorm village."

Bernard Marena

Coming off a strong performance in the AAU season, Marena will be a key player for what is expected to be a very strong Central Park Christian team this year. A prospect who has been consistently improving since he arrived in the United States from the Ivory Coast, he handles the ball well enough to see some playing time at the big guard spot and can also take the ball near the basket and be effective inside.

A serious student who has a perfect 4.0 grade point average, Marena says one of the highlights of the visit was touring Auburn's school of engineering, the field he plans to study in college.

Kouassi, who is also a strong student, toured the school of agriculture and he notes that he is also very interested in the Tigers.

"I enjoyed the trip and I had a very good meeting with Coach Barbee," Kouassi says. "I like Coach Barbee and all of the other coaches at Auburn."

Like Marena, Kouassi is from the Ivory Coast and is a player who is making major strides in his game playing both AAU basketball for Team Alabama and for Central Park Christian. "The AAU season was very good," he says. "We played a lot of basketball and there was a lot of competition."

Kouassi has long arms and excellent timing and is an outstanding shot blocker.

In addition to Auburn, Kouassi has scholarship offers from Georgia, Alabama, UAB, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Arkansas-Little-Rock, Memphis, Murray State, Missouri, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Pitt, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Tennessee, Tulane, Wake Forest, Western Kentucky, UAB, UTEP and Vanderbilt.

Marena's offer list includes Arkansas, UAB, Alabama, Wake Forest, Xavier and Virginia with a large number of other colleges interested.

Coach Knox says the pair is interested in playing together in college. Neither are ready to make a college choice yet because they still want to take more visits. Next on their schedule is an unofficial to UAB next week.

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