Bruce Pearl: Auburn basketball will 'probably have 1 more addition' to roster

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Bruce Pearl: Auburn basketball will 'probably have 1 more addition' to roster

The dust has all but settled for Auburn basketball.

Bruce Pearl's contract was extended, his staff is complete, three major pieces chose to return for another season and a backup point guard has been added.

There is still the looming decision to come from the NCAA as to sanctions pertaining to the accusations against former assistant coach Chuck Person, whose federal case isn't headed for trial until next spring, but as far as what's happening on the court is concerned the Tigers are in as good a spot as they could possibly ask for and things might get even better soon.

Pearl said Auburn will "probably have one more addition to the roster" before the season. While Pearl could not elaborate publicly, that addition would be if four-star 2019 forward Babatunde Akingbola reclassifies and enrolls in the fall.

"I would think that there's a good chance we go into the season with 12 guys on scholarship," Pearl said. "Right now, we're at 11. Then if we didn't have the 13th we would either keep it open through the semester or like we did a year ago with Pat Keim, be able to give it to a walk-on at mid-semester."

Both Pearl and Auburn athletic director Allen Greene said the program is not holding a scholarship open as a contingency, in case the NCAA chooses to penalize the Tigers with a loss of scholarships.

Pearl said it's been "real quiet" and while there's isn't a clear timeline for the NCAA to make a ruling, Auburn is "way down the road" in the investigative process.

Should Akingbola complete the coursework necessary to reclassify if would give Auburn additional depth in the front court, where Austin Wiley, Anfernee McLemore and Horace Spencer will split time at center and Chuma Okeke is at power forward with McLemore and Spencer.

Even if Akingbola does reclassify it's possible he redshirts, but his addition would provide a much needed bigger body and no less than a contingency in the event of injuries next season.

"I feel really good about the 10 guys that we have," Pearl said. "I would prefer to have a little bit more depth, but for obvious reasons we had our challenges with recruiting until everything is behind us. But we're in a good place.

"I would much rather be in a position where we are patient and hold a scholarship for the guys that we know we're going to need to be able to maintain a level of competitiveness rather than settling and having the program step back and become less competitive."

After much searching Auburn added junior college transfer J'Von McCormick to backup Jared Harper at point guard last month.

It was a process that took a while to play out as Harper, Bryce Brown, Austin Wiley and Mustapha Heron all contemplated entering the NBA Draft, there were changes to the coaching staff and Auburn self-imposed a penalty by keeping its staff off the road recruiting in April.

"That has an impact on the future of the program," Greene said. "We take great pride in following the rules, and so it's important that our integrity stands."

With two more evaluation weekends before a quiet period in recruiting, Pearl and his staff are wrapping up a fiscal year that was both historic and bizarre with the hope the next year proves more successful and also less chaotic.

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

from Auburn Sports Impact

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