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Auburn basketball’s roster outlook after the NBA draft

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Not only did Auburn lose Bryce Brown, Malik Dunbar and Horace Spencer to graduation, but they also lost underclassmen Jared Harper and Chuma Okeke as they decided to leave their names in the draft.

After all of its departures, Auburn is losing 74.7 percent of its three-point production from last year’s campaign that resulted in the program’s first Final Four appearance. Auburn was first in the SEC in three-pointers made, so the Tigers are losing a large portion of an important piece of their offense.

More importantly, Auburn is losing 133 starts from five players. Those five players accounted for 66.9 percent of the Tigers total point production.

Nonetheless, there is still potential for returning players to take the next step heading into next season. Here is a look at Auburn’s roster following the deadline:

*statistics are from 2018-2019 season

PG

Key departure(s): Jared Harper (15.3 PPG, 5.8 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG)

  1. J’Von McCormick (4.1 PPG, 1.4 APG)
  2. Tyrell Jones/Jamal Johnson

Harper is the key loss here. More than his scoring ability, Auburn will miss his experience and ability to lead an offense. Harper started in all 40 games and amassed a team-high 32.1 minutes per game.

Senior J’Von McCormick is the most likely candidate to replace Harper as the starting point guard. His season stats don’t jump off the page, but McCormick elevated his game in the postseason making him a more attractive option entering next year. He averaged 6.6 points per game in the SEC and NCAA tournaments, which is a couple of points higher than his season average.

McCormick’s experience gives him the edge over incoming freshman Tyrell “Turbo” Jones. Jones, an explosive combo guard, has the potential to develop into a starter for Auburn in the coming years. Memphis transfer Jamal Johnson might also pick up some minutes running the point.

SG

Key departure(s): Bryce Brown (15.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 SPG)

  1. Jamal Johnson
  2. Samir Doughty/Tyrell Jones

Like Harper, the void left by Brown’s departure could be too large to fill. Brown played a major role in Auburn’s offense, accounting for 31.1 percent of Auburn’s three-point production. Possibly Auburn’s best on-ball defender, Brown contributed on both ends of the floor.

Johnson transferred from Memphis last season. During his only season with the Tigers, he averaged 6.9 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game. He started in 27 games. According to 247Sports, the 6-foot-4-inch guard was the No. 8 combo guard in the country out of high school. Similar to Brown, Johnson favors the three-point shot as 141 of his 200 shot attempts at Memphis came from beyond the arc.

Doughty’s versatility and scoring ability puts him in a position to be Auburn’s sixth man. With his frame and athleticism, Doughty is able to play shooting guard and small forward. In 24.2 minutes per game last season, Doughty provided 7.3 points per game. He also added 3.5 rebounds per game and 1.7 assists per game. His length allowed him to snag 1.4steals per game. He possesses multiple tools making him the first player off the bench.

At times last year, McCormick and Harper shared the floor, so it is possible to see Jones also log some minutes at shooting guard.

SF

Key departure(s): Malik Dunbar (6.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG)

  1. Isaac Okoro
  2. Samir Doughty (7.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.4 SPG)

Auburn is losing its hype man in Malik Dunbar. Between highlight dunks and chase-down blocks, Dunbar’s play provided exciting moments capable of elevating Auburn Arena’s atmosphere and the team’s play.

Okoro is the most likely candidate from Auburn’s recruiting class to start immediately. Ranked the No. 35 player nationally by 247Sports, Okoro has the most buzz as he steps onto the collegiate stage. At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, he is able to guard almost every position on the floor. His offensive game will need improvement, but his athleticism will help him be a viable scoring option.

Doughty started 27 games at small forward last season, so it’s possible that Auburn leans toward his experience. If not, expect Doughty to be the first player off the bench.

PF

Key departure(s): Chuma Okeke (12 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.2 BPG), Horace Spencer (4.2 PPG, 4 RPG)

  1. Danjel Purifoy (3.7 PPG, 2.1 RPG)
  2. Jaylin Williams

Auburn is losing its do-it-all man in Okeke. As noted by his statistics, Okeke was capable of scoring from anywhere on the court, and he was capable of defending any position. An NBA draft selection by the Orlando Magic, Okeke will not be easily replaced. Spencer provided energy and a high motor off the bench. His offensive rebounding and defense came in clutch times for the Tigers at multiple points throughout Auburn’s postseason run.

Despite his natural position being small forward, Purifoy has played power forward many times in his Auburn career. After missing the 2017-2018 season due to suspension, Purifoy struggled to settle in until the end of last year. Despite only averaging 3.7 points per game last season, Purifoy did average 11.7 points per game in 2016-2017, so the potential is there for him to be a key contributor.

According to 247Sports, Williams was the No. 100 player overall and the No. 17 power forward in last year’s class. With his 6-foot-8 and 225-pound frame, Williams resembles Spencer. His offensive game needs refining, but he has the ability to come off the bench and contribute as a rebounder and an inside-scorer.

C

Key departure(s): N/A

  1. Austin Wiley (6.9 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.3 BPG)
  2. Anfernee McLemore (6.7 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.1 BPG)
  3. Babatunde Akingbola

Center holds the most promise because Auburn returns both players at the position. If Wiley and McLemore can put together healthy seasons, Auburn’s frontcourt will be hard to handle.

Wiley, when healthy, is a good defender capable of altering shots around the basket. He has developed his back-to-basket game making him a viable option on the low block. Furthermore, with the right positioning, few players in the SEC can out-rebound Wiley. The key for Wiley is to make it on to the floor and avoid injury.

McLemore, a solid rim protector as well, may not be as big as Wiley, but he is more mobile around the basket. He hasn’t developed as good of an inside game, but he can step out on the perimeter and shoot the three. His ability to stretch the floor is a headache for opposing bigs who are uncomfortable playing on the perimeter. With both Wiley and McLemore healthy, a lot of time should be shared between the two at the position.

Akingbola, high-school teammate to Okoro, is a raw, athletic talent. A three-star according to 247Sports, he will have the pleasure learning from two of the best rim protectors in the SEC, but there is a log jam in front of him in the frontcourt. Considering Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl likes to go to the depths of his bench, Akingbola will find a role, but probably with limited minutes.

Potential Minutes

  1. Javon Franklin
  2. Allen Flanigan

With a lot of talent in front of them on the roster, it is hard to gauge how much playing time Franklin and Flanigan will see. Franklin, a JUCO transfer, can look at the role Dunbar carved out for himself when he transferred from junior college, and they seem to have similar play styles (high-flying dunks and shot-blocking ability). Flanigan, the son of Auburn assistant coach Wes Flanigan, was the No. 337 overall player according to 247Sports and is probably on the outside looking in when it comes to playing time.


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