SAN DIEGO — Bruce Pearl says he expects Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley and perhaps another Auburn basketball player or two to enter the 2018 NBA Draft process over the next few weeks.
Heron, who led Auburn in scoring this season with 16.4 points per game, hasn’t made a decision on whether he’ll return to school for his junior season or go pro.
“That’s something that I’ll talk to my family about and I’ll let you guys know,” Heron said Sunday after Auburn’s 84-53 loss to Clemson in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
College players can enter the NBA draft before April 22 at 11:59 p.m. ET and go through the “process,” as Pearl calls it, while maintaining their eligibility — if they don’t hire an agent.
Players can participate in the NBA draft combine and individual workouts with teams, where they’ll get direct feedback on their stock. If the players decide they want to stay in school for another season, they must withdraw from the draft before the deadline on June 11 at 5 p.m. ET.
Pearl’s advice to Heron, the first 5-star signee in Auburn history, is to enter the draft and then make his decision.
“My message [is] take a look, and see where you’re going to get drafted,” Pearl said. “Go through the process. I think he’s ready to go through that process, and he should. You always make a good decision when you have more information. He should go through the process.”
Pearl expects Wiley, who was ruled ineligible for the entire 2017-18 season due to his family’s connection with the federal investigation that led to the arrest of former assistant coach Chuck Person, to do the same thing. The NCAA ruled in January that Wiley would be eligible for the 2018-19 season.
While Heron hasn’t been a widely talked about as a pro prospect this season, Wiley has been a more popular name in NBA mock drafts and big board rankings. NBADraft.net currently has him as the No. 36 overall pick in the second round to the Dallas Mavericks.
“I would anticipate Austin going through the process,” Pearl said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if another player or two — not sure who — went through the process.”
Danjel Purifoy, who also missed the entire 2017-18 season with similar eligibility issues as Wiley, could be the other player. Unlike Wiley, Purifoy has not been ruled eligible for the 2018-19 season by the NCAA. Pearl said Sunday that “we still don’t know” about Purifoy’s status.
No matter which Auburn player decides to test the NBA draft waters, Pearl has the same message to all of them.
“They should get evaluated and see where they’re at,” Pearl said. “And then make a decision on whether it’s the right thing to come back or stay in the draft.”