Tuesday morning brought some significant news for the Auburn basketball program, as three of the program’s stars announced that they would be withdrawing from the NBA draft.
It was not all good news, however.
While last year’s leading scorer Bryce Brown and center Austin Wiley both opted to return to Auburn for another season, Mustapha Heron — arguably the program’s best player last season — will withdraw from the NBA draft and transfer to a different program. According to a report from ZagsBlog.com, Heron wants to go to a school closer to his mother in West Haven, Connecticut. She is sick and he will be applying for a hardship waiver to be eligible immediately in 2018-19.
Heron is a 6-foot-5 wing that averaged 16.4 points and 5.3 boards as a sophomore.
The good news is that Auburn will return two key pieces for next year. Wiley is a 6-foot-11, 260 pound center that averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 boards as a freshman in 2016-17 for the Tigers despite only playing half the season after reclassifying and enrolling in January. Wiley did not play last season as he was forced to sit out after getting caught up in the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption.
Wiley will be eligible to play in 2018-19, which is major news for an Auburn team that lacks for size. After winning a share of the SEC regular season title last season, Auburn bowed out in the second round of the NCAA tournament in large part due to the fact that their best interior player, Anfernee McLemore, was out with an ankle injury and they did not have enough size to replace him.
Brown led the program in scoring a season ago and while his return will be welcomed, there was never all that much doubt that he would be back on campus next year. The Tigers are still waiting on a decision from starting point guard Jared Harper.