Since graduating high school in December, Austin Wiley has played a grand total of 191 minutes, or just over three hours, of SEC basketball.
In that short time frame, the freshman has shown conference foes he’s someone they should be worrying about.
The first official recognition came on Monday morning: Wiley was named the SEC Freshman of the Week after scoring a career-high 19 points and adding 9 rebounds in Auburn’s 84-64 win over Alabama on Saturday.
Even when things haven’t gone the Tigers way — Auburn suffered its worst-ever loss (98-69) to South Carolina on Tuesday night — Wiley has distinguished himself.
“He’s real good. It’s scary how good he can get,” South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said after the Gamecocks’ win. “Let’s not forget, six weeks ago he was probably walking down the hallway of a school. Now, he’s on the court competing at the highest level of college basketball. He is trying to learn stuff that some guys have been practicing for three, four months. He’s good.”
Wiley posted his first-career double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) against South Carolina in Columbia.
While he missed chances at the free throw line (he was 4 for 12), overall he was the reason Auburn was able to keep the score, and rebounding margin, as close as it was (37-38).
“Great footwork. Great demeanor. Has a desire for the ball,” Martin said. “Doesn’t wait for it. Goes to get it. He’s good. The SEC has got a problem dealing with him and all the freshmen moving forward.”
After the loss Bruce Pearl acknowledged Wiley and Anfernee McLemore played well (McLemore scored a career-high 18 points).
He also admitted his team is still figuring out how to use their center.
“We do a lousy job of finding the big fella,” Pearl said. “He’s open all night long, we don’t throw it to him.”
Pearl has no intentions of letting that slide. Auburn travels to TCU for the Big 12/SEC Challenge before taking on Tennessee at Auburn Arena (the Vols took down No. 4 Kentucky in The Summitt on Tuesday night).
It will be Wiley’s ninth SEC matchup and another chance for him to step into the spotlight.