Auburn basketball fans have known JT Thor would enter the NBA Draft, but many fans were holding onto hope that the talented forward would return to Auburn if he went undrafted. According to Auburn Undercover, many sources expect Thor to stick with the professional route and will not return to Auburn basketball for the 2021 season.
Thor originally announced that he would enter the NBA Draft and sign with an agent, but wanted to keep the option of returning to Auburn open on March 24th. This weekend Thor announced he would be signing with Next Level Sports and Management.
Thor was a 4-star power forward out of Norcross, GA and ranked as the #54 player in the 2020 class after reclassifying before joining the Auburn basketball team last season. Thor started all 27 games for the Tigers last season as a true freshman. Last season for Auburn basketball, Thor averaged 9.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 0.9 assists, and 0.8 steals in 23.3 minutes for the 2020 season. According to the Auburn Athletics site, Thor was one of only five freshmen with at least 250 points, 100 rebounds, and 30 blocks throughout the 2020 season.
This is the second loss to the NBA Draft for the Tigers this offseason, as Sharife Cooper also has decided to take his talents to the NBA Draft. Thor is graded as a 2nd round prospect by most NBA Draft rankings, while many believe Cooper could find his way into the late 1st round of the upcoming NBA Draft.
This is a big loss for Auburn basketball, but luckily the Tigers and Bruce Pearl have done an excellent job bringing in talent this offseason to replace the departures. The highest-rated recruit in Auburn basketball history, Jabari Smith, will step into the void left by Thor at the power forward position. Auburn has also landed five transfers this offseason, which include K.D. Johnson, Wendell Green, Zep Jasper, Walker Kessler, and Desi Stills.
Bruce Pearl has shown an ability to make the most out of whatever his roster may have and I expect this year to be a more experienced and talented team than the 2020 roster. Big things are on the horizon for Pearl and the Tigers, but we still wish JT Thor the best of luck in the NBA!