Auburn basketball: Top 2021 target could give the Tigers their next Chuma Okeke

One of Auburn’s top basketball targets is ready to commit and Auburn has made his final list.

The Auburn Tigers are still searching for their first recruit for the class of 2021. After bringing in a top-10 nationally ranked recruiting class for 2020, head coach Bruce Pearl and the Tigers have yet to land a single rising senior.

That might change very soon as one of Auburn’s top 2021 targets recently announced his commitment date and a list of his top schools that he would be choosing from.

James Graham III is one of the top small forwards in the class of 2021. According to 247Sports, the 6-foot-8 forward is the No. 56 player in the nation and a top-10 prospect at his position.

On Tuesday, Graham tweeted out a thank you to every school that has been recruiting him and announced that he would be committing to a school next Monday (August 17.)

Graham also cut his list of schools down to four with the final schools being Auburn, Wisconsin, Maryland and Memphis.

Auburn extended a scholarship to Graham back in May and have been heavily recruiting him since. However, as a Milwaukee, Wisconsin native, Auburn will have to work extra hard to overcome the hometown badgers.

Along with Wisconsin, Maryland is currently seen as the favorites for the rising senior as the Terrapins have all eight of the 247Sports crystal ball prediction for Graham.

However, while Auburn may be far from home for Graham, Bruce Pearl does have a heavy Wisconsin connection as the Tigers’ head coach coached at UW-Milwaukee for four seasons where he led the Panthers to an 86-38 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances as the representatives from the Horizon League.

As a junior at Nicolet high school, Graham averaged 21 points per game and hit 47 percent of his three-point shots while leading the team to a 22-3 record.

Similar to former Auburn star Chuma Okeke, Graham has the length to play either forward position. The Milwaukee product is also a knock-down shooter in catch and shoot situations, can finish at the rim with excellent footwork, has a developing game as a scorer off the dribble and is also a solid rebounder.

Okeke came to Auburn as a combo forward prospect who ranked as the No. 60 player in the class of 2017 according to 247Sports. With Graham having a similar ranking and skillset, the comparisons are there/

Graham isn’t the only Wisconsin recruit that the Tigers have been pursuing either as Auburn has also offered 2022 shooting guard Jeffery Brazziel who is also a Milwaukee native and one of the top prospects in the state.

Auburn’s recent success should also be a big draw for Graham. In the past three seasons, Auburn has a combined record of 81-24 (77.1 win percentage) which is better than all three of Graham’s other top schools during that same span.

In the past three seasons, Auburn has also made two NCAA Tournament appearances (would’ve likely been three if the 2020 tournament wasn’t canceled) and made the Final Four in 2019.

Along with team success, Auburn has sent several players to the next level. In 2019, Okeke became the first Tiger to be drafted since 2001 when he went 16th overall to the Orlando Magic. Additionally,

freshman sensation Isaac Okoro is set to become the first one-and-done prospect in program history this October.