It’s a tradition now for online outlets to put up an NBA mock draft for next year right after the current one finishes. But here’s something different for 2018 — one has two Auburn basketball players on it.
Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports placed two of Bruce Pearl’s current Tigers in his “ridiculously early” 2018 NBA Mock Draft early Friday morning.
Forgrave has sophomore guard Mustapha Heron going to the Indiana Pacers at No. 20 and sophomore center Austin Wiley going to the Denver Nuggets at No. 25.
If any Tiger went in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft, it would be the first for Auburn basketball since 2000, when Mamadou N’Diaye went No. 26 overall to the Nuggets. Auburn hasn’t had a draft pick of any kind since 2001, when Jamison Brewer went in the second round to the Pacers.
But Pearl’s success on the recruiting trail in recent cycles has changed things for the program in terms of top-level, NBA-caliber talent.
Heron, who was a 5-star signee in the class of 2016, decided to stay at Auburn this upcoming season after a solid freshman campaign in which he averaged 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds.
“[Heron is a] big, strong, confident guard who plays with the certainty of an NBA vet,” Forgrave wrote. “He can shoot it from deep and rebounds well for a guard.”
Wiley, an original class of 2017 recruit who joined the Tigers midway through last season, could see his stock soar over the next year. The 6-foot-11 center recently made the Team USA U-19 squad that will play at the FIBA World Cup early next month.
“Two Auburn players in the first round? Two Auburn players in the first round,” Forgrave wrote. “Wiley reminds me a bit of [former Kentucky forward] Bam Adebayo. No, he’s not always the world’s most graceful athlete, but Wiley can overwhelm people with his strength and motor. Both of his parents were high-level basketball players in college and internationally.”