It has been reported that Auburn basketball freshman Isaac Okoro will test the waters by putting his name in the NBA Draft, and Bruce Pearl will advise him to leave his name in the draft if he receives lottery-level feedback.
At this point, it looks like Okoro will be in the NBA next season and not at Auburn. This is something most Auburn fans have seen coming since Okoro’s first few games as a Tiger.
Okoro becoming Auburn’s first one-and-done is big for him because of the money and contract he’d get, but it would also be big for Auburn.
Assuming Okoro does stay in the draft and is picked in the lottery (I see him as a top 10 pick), Pearl will be able to sell Auburn targets on having sent players in the top 20 of back-to-back NBA drafts. On top of that, neither of the players (Chuma Okeke and Okoro) were as highly touted recruits as many of the players they’re being drafted over.
Okoro was considered a five star by some sites at a few different points during his high school career, but Okeke was never ranked as a five star and Okoro finished as a four star according to two of the three major recruiting services.
That helps when it comes to recruiting players who are fringe five stars with dreams of playing in the NBA and other players who want to play their way into a higher pick.
It also goes hand-in-hand with Pearl developing relatively-unknown prospects like Bryce Brown and others into professionals.
Okoro’s jump to the NBA would strengthen Auburn’s presence in the NBA and helps in multiple other ways, but the Tigers will still have to replace Okoro’s production. Luckily, many of the members of Auburn’s 2019 class played frequently last season and the Tigers are still recruiting multiple five stars and other instant impact players.
Replacing Okoro’s production could fall into the hands of players like Devan Cambridge, Allen Flanigan and newcomer Chris Moore, or Auburn could add someone like Jalen Green.
Replacing Okoro will be a team effort either way. Auburn seems to have the potential to do so … but missing Okoro in our hearts will be a different story. Of course, Okoro could still return for his sophomore season, but it seems unlikely that he isn’t a lottery pick.