These 3 transfer portal big men could replace Johni Broome if he leaves Auburn basketball

Two offseasons ago, Johni Broome transferred from Morehead State to Auburn and he developed into a third-team All-American. Now he could be headed to the NBA and Bruce Pearl needs a new project in the front court.

Maryland Terrapins forward Julian Reese (10) shoots against Rutgers Center Clifford Omoruyi
Maryland Terrapins forward Julian Reese (10) shoots against Rutgers Center Clifford Omoruyi / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Johni Broome was Auburn’s leading scorer and in the NCAA Tournament loss to Yale, the team even leaned on his offense too heavily. Pearl needs to add more scorers this offseason and he’ll use the portal to do that, but first he has to replace Broome’s defense and rim protection if he does head to the NBA. 

In under 25 minutes a game, Broome averaged 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. He also may have been Auburn’s best passer, dishing out 2.2 assists a game, primarily facilitating out of the short-roll or the mid-post. His game was unique and effective, both in half-court and transition, and it’s unlikely that any player in the portal will be able to fully replicate his production. Still, Pearl has to try. 

Dylan Cardwell participated in Auburn’s Senior Day, but he too has an extra year of eligibility left, so center may not be the biggest priority on the roster. However, if Cardwell does leave, either forgoing his final year or entering the transfer portal, then there is a gaping holes on the roster that Pearl must address. 

So, who would be the best fit to replace all the things that Broome, a third-team All-American selection in 2024, did for the Tigers? Well, let’s take a look at a couple of options. 

Auburn transfer portal targets frontcourt:

PF/C. player. 2496. . Eligibility Remaining: 2. William Kyle III. William Kyle. William Kyle III. . 6'9" 230 lbs

While Kyle is not going to provide Auburn with the post-touches that Broome did and is a bit undersized at 6’9”, he has impressive vertical pop from the dunker spot and will clean up dump-offs or offensive rebounds. 

Kyle can absolutely hold up as a true center in the SEC, but has the versatility to be able to play the four next to a big than can space the floor, only Auburn doesn’t have any of those. His jumpshot is a concern. He’s taken just one three in his two-year career at South Dakota State and shot 58% from the free throw line lsat season, but puts pressure on the rim as a roller and is capable in the dribble-hand-off. 

Another drawback with Kyle is rim protection. While he only averaged 1.4 fouls per game, he also only blocked 1.6 shots while playing in the Summit League. When athletes are better in the SEC, I’m not sure he’ll be viewed as much of an impediment. 

Bruce Pearl would love to have a player like Kyle for Auburn’s fast-paced transition offense, he’ll have some highlights on rim-runs, but as the game slows down against a team like Yale, I’m not sure he solves any of Auburn’s half-court deficiencies. 

Mikeal Brown-Jones. Mikeal Brown-Jones. player. 2471. . Eligibility Remaining: 1. Mikeal Brown-Jones. PF/C. . 6'8" 220 lbs

It’s a massive step up from the Southern Confernece to the SEC, but a player like Brown-Jones could be able to make the leap. Though, I wouldn’t count on his production being anywhere near the 18.9 points and 7.5 rebounds he averaged for UNC Greensboro this past season. 

Brown-Jones is a capable three-point shooter, knocking down 43.1% of his 2.1 attempts per game last year, and is a good finisher around the rim, either out of the post-up or from the dunker spot. He isn’t the same vertical athlete that Kyle is, so I’d prefer the South Dakota State transfer because at least I know the athleticism translates to the SEC. 

There is still a lot for Pearl to work with if he lands Brown-Jones. His above the break three-point shooting will provide additional spacing for guards like Holloway and Donaldson to get to the rim. I don’t love the fit defensively, but he would pair very nicely with the guy who I view as the best fit for Auburn at center.

Auburn transfer portal best fit at center:

. player. Clifford Omoruyi. Clifford Omoruyi. 452. Eligibility Remaining: 1. Clifford Omoruyi. . 6'11" 240 lbs. C

With his ridiculous 7-foot-6 wingspan, Omoruyi has been a defensive force at Rutgers across the past three seasons. As a freshman he didn’t play much, but he has blossomed into one of the three best rim protectors in the entire country, averaging 2.9 blocks a game despite playing just 26.9 minutes. 

Omoruyi is much more limited on offense, but will provide everything that Broome did on the defensive end and more. Rutgers was not a good team this year, but almost exclusively because of Omoruyi, ranked fifth in Kenpom adjusted defensive efficiency. He’s a walking top 10 defense who Pearl could surround with scorers to make another run at the SEC title and more March success.

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