Auburn basketball: will Babatunde Akingbola start?

Auburn basketball target Cliff Omoruyi committed to Rutgers over Auburn and Arizona State March 29. Omoruyi was Auburn’s highest ranked pure center left on the board, but Auburn still has options left at center heading into next season.

JT Thor and Dylan Cardwell are two targets who could (likely) contribute day one at center. However, they haven’t committed to Auburn.

Of the players already on Auburn’s roster, Babatunde “Stretch” Akingbola is the most likely to start.

I think Akingbola has a high ceiling, but last season he was a work in progress playing behind two seniors after missing the 2018-19 season.

This year we’ll see how well some of the things he did at the high school and AAU level translate to college.

Most of Akingbola’s ability ties into his size and athleticism.

Akingbola played high school basketball at McEachern with Sharife Cooper and Isaac Okoro.

In high school, his speed allowed him to regularly beat guards up and down the floor and pick up dunks, blocks and put backs in transition:

Akingbola’s size, long arms and ability to get off the ground quick allow him to protect the rim without fouling and his quick hands allow him to pick up steals:

One of the best displays of Akingbola’s defense was when he took on former Auburn commit, current five star Kentucky forward EJ Montgomery.

Montgomery finished the game with just 13 points and six rebounds after being guarded by Akingbola for most of the game. Akingbola never left the floor and held Montgomery to just ONE field goal attempt through the first three quarters.

Akingbola even recorded a triple-double at McEachern thanks to his shot blocking ability.

When McEachern played North Cobb in January of 2018, Akingbola had 10 points, 15 rebounds and 10 blocks. During the following AAU season, Akingbola was named EYBL Atlanta defensive player of the session for averaging 5.3 blocks, 10 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.

In addition to what Akingbola can do on defense and in transition, his size and athleticism allow him to get second chance shots, and he has a sneaky ability to knock down open shots. If Akingbola is a threat from three, he becomes much more dangerous on offense and so will Auburn.

With a full season and another off season added to Akingbola’s resume (in addition to his size, athleticism and attitude), I think he will make a good starting center for Auburn.

But, Auburn can’t expect to play a center for 40 minutes a game, so Akingbola will need help. If Auburn does sign a player like Jonathan Kuminga, Brown or Thor, Jaylin Williams could potentially see time at center thanks to his size and athleticism allowing him to do everything Auburn asks of its centers.