Unlike most people who bought into the first year of Bruce Pearl’s time with the Auburn Tigers, I knew that the Tigers were at least one year away from any chance of competing in the SEC. Pearl is a fantastic head coach, but he’s not a miracle worker.
The good news for Auburn fans is that this is the right season to buy into Pearl. KT Harrell may be off to play on the Philadelphia 76ers‘ Summer League team, but this team brings back Cinmeon Bowers, who has the potential to dominate his opposition after averaging 12.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
If you take a look down this roster, several key seniors are gone, but there is youth, talent and experience across the board. Pearl continues to recruit at an elite level, and the Tigers already had a somewhat decent roster to start with. Players who underperformed in the past like Jordan Granger will step up this next season to help take this team to the next level.
No, the Tigers are not going to win the SEC or make it to the Elite Eight, but Auburn is more than capable of a top four finish in the SEC and a trip to the 2016 NCAA tournament. This team is talented, driven and they have the right coach at the helm.
Do not be fooled by last season’s failure to meet unrealistic expectations. Auburn is a legitimate dark horse in the SEC and is not the team expected elite opponents need to overlook on the already crowded SEC schedule.
This season we will likely see just a glimpse of what the future has in store for Auburn basketball. The 2016-17 season? Watch out.