AUBURN, Ala. – Bruce Pearl has landed a verbal commitment from his second five-star recruit in as many months.
Austin Wiley, a 6-foot-9 and 230-pound center prospect from Spain Park High School in the Birmingham area, gave his pledge to Auburn’s 2017 recruiting class and plans to sign in the early period of November 2016.
“Bruce Pearl is building something special here at a place my family loves,” Wiley said. “I met Coach Pearl not long after he got the job and he told me I was his top priority. That meant a lot to hear that from him.”
Wiley’s parents were former stars on the hardwood at Auburn as his mother, Vickie Orr Wiley, was a two-time All-America selection and his father, Aubrey Wiley, anchored Auburn’s inside game and led the Southeastern Conference in rebounding in 1994.
Wiley said Saturday in an interview with The Montgomery Advertiser that his background of practically growing up around the Auburn campus with both of his parents being successful athletes at the school was a big factor.
“I can’t see why it wasn’t the perfect fit to go to school and play basketball,” Wiley said. “I’ve been coming here since I was born. The way I look at this is a coming home party today.”
Aubrey Wiley and Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person, who was part of the recruiting process for Austin Wiley, are cousins. Vickie Orr Wiley tweeted Saturday morning a picture of her son in an Auburn jersey during an official visit with the words “It’s OFFICIAL…he’s decided to be a Tiger! #KeepingItInTheFamily”
“Everybody thought this day would happen if Austin worked hard enough to get to this point but we really wanted Austin to experience the recruiting process from everybody,” Vickie Orr Wiley said. “I think first and foremost, it’s about the relationships that Coach Pearl is building with everybody he meets. As his mom, it puts me at ease that his head coach and coaches around here will take care of him when he’s here.”
Austin Wiley joins 5-star 2016 recruit Mustapha Heron’s pledge in Auburn to Pearl’s rebuilding effort. Austin Wiley tweeted Saturday morning “I’m proud to say that I will be furthering my education and basketball career at Auburn University.”
Wiley chose Auburn Saturday over offers and interest from basketball powerhouse programs such as Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan State and Kentucky. Jerry Bartley, director of Wiley’s AAU program, The Alabama Challenge, said Wiley will remind basketball fans of former Florida power forward and current Atlanta Hawks all-star player Al Horford.
“He’s not all there offensive yet but the tools are all there for him to continue to development,” Bartley said. “What he’s already got is the ability to affect the game defensively and a great attitude with a great family background. When your mother has her name carved into the building, you have the chance to be special.”
Wiley had two surgeries in the last few months to clean up his left knee around the patellar tendon before fixing a partial tear of the patellar tendon in his right knee.
“The injuries have really slowed him down right now in terms of his offensive development but he’ll be fine and recover fully from them,” Bartley said.