AUBURN, Ala. — Austin Wiley couldn’t wait to get to the Plains to become a Tiger.
The 6-foot-11, 255-pound center enrolled at Auburn early, and will officially join Bruce Pearl’s squad at practice on Saturday ahead of the team’s Sunday afternoon game against Mercer.
The 5-star, who’s the son of former Tigers Vickie Orr and Aubrey Wiley, was one of the most coveted recruits in program history. The centerpiece of Bruce Pearl’s 2017 class — which also includes 4-star point guard Davion Mitchell and 4-star forward Chuma Okeke — signed his national letter of intent in November after verbally committing last August.
“I am extremely excited to announce that Austin Wiley has been deemed a qualifier by the NCAA and has been admitted and enrolled in Auburn University,” Pearl said in a statement. “He will compete for Auburn starting against Mercer on Sunday. We look forward to having Austin be a part of and play for the Auburn Tigers just as his parents did. I want to thank the SEC, NCAA, President (Jay) Gogue, Jay Jacobs and all of those in the Auburn administration for all of their due diligence.”
The Hoover, Ala., native played three seasons of high school basketball at Spain Park in Hoover before transferring to Conrad Academy in Orlando, Fla., for his senior season.
Wiley averaged 21.7 points and 12.1 rebounds in 2015, helping the Jaguars to the Class 7A semifinals. He played in Spain this summer as a member of the U17 USA basketball team.
Wiley’s addition comes at the perfect time for an undersized Auburn team, who suffered a last-second loss to Boston College in the team’s first-ever appearance in Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
Upon the team’s arrival back in Auburn, the Tigers received another tough blow when Pearl indefinitely suspended sophomore starters Bryce Brown and Horace Spencer, who were arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession early Wednesday morning.
Still, Pearl’s team responded by tying an SEC record for 3-pointers (21) during a 117-72 win over Coastal Carolina on Thursday night in Auburn.
Graduate transfer LaRon Smith started in place of the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Spencer, splitting time with true freshman forward Anfernee McLemore. The two scored 13 total points and grabbed 15 rebounds in 37 minutes of play.
According to the 247Sports composite, Wiley was the No. 16 prospect nationally. Pearl said he expects the freshman to step in and contribute quickly.
Following the game against Mercer in Auburn Arena on Sunday, the Tigers will travel to Connecticut, where they’ll face off against Oklahoma on Dec. 21 and Oklahoma on Dec. 23.
“It feels great. My hard work and dedication has paid off,” Wiley said in a statement. “Thanks to my parents and the coaches. I feel great. I grew up around here listening to stories my mom and dad would tell me… This is a blessing, and it seems like everything works out for the best. It feels like destiny.”
All ratings come from the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.