Spain Park’s Wiley chooses Auburn

Published 5:25 pm Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Spain Park's Austin Wiley announced on Saturday, Sept. 26 that he has committed to play basketball at Auburn University. (Contributed)

Spain Park’s Austin Wiley announced on Saturday, Sept. 26 that he has committed to play basketball at Auburn University. (Contributed)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

At the end of the day, Austin Wiley decided to follow in his parents’ footsteps. Wiley, the 6-foot-10-inch, 16-year-old junior from Spain Park announced on Saturday, Sept. 26 that he will take his talents to Auburn University and join charismatic Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl in the quest to bring Auburn basketball back to nationwide relevance.

For any human being, much less a 16-year-old kid, Wiley is impossibly large. He has been listed as a top 10 prospect in the nation for the 2017 class by a number of different recruiting websites and is one of the most dominant big men across the country for his age. His decision to attend Auburn is a marquee signing for Pearl and the Tigers.

Both of Wiley’s parents played for Auburn during their college years. Wiley’s mother, Vickie Orr Wiley, was a star for the Lady Tigers and was a member of the 1992 Olympic team that won a bronze medal in Barcelona. His father, Aubrey Wiley was a contributor during his college days for the Tigers as well. While this background may have made Auburn the smart money pick for Wiley on recruiting websites and among fans, Wiley himself maintains the decision was not always set in stone.

“I always liked Auburn, but it wasn’t set from the beginning (to attend),” Wiley said in a Sept. 30 interview.

Among the other schools Wiley was looking at were Duke, LSU, Alabama and Kansas. A number of things ended up tipping the scale in Auburn’s favor in the end, among those being the opportunity to help rebuild a program.

“Me, Mustafa (Heron, five-star prospect in 2016) and Jared (Harper, 2016 point guard prospect) want to rebuild the program and get it back up to when they used to be No. 1 in the country and all that. We just want to get back to when it was great.”

Also, he felt confident that the facilities and opportunities Auburn will be able to provide will be top notch.

“They had all the resources I wanted,” he added. “The facilities, a good education, they’ll feed me, like, whenever I want to eat. It’s just a good place that will set me up for success.”

Spain Park head coach Donnie Quinn has been around basketball all his life, and is headed into his 35th season as a basketball coach. In Quinn’s time as a coach he has been around one NBA draft pick, Mike Smith, who was selected in the second round of the 2000 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards where he played with Michael Jordan. Quinn believes Wiley is the best player he’s coached.

“He’s the best I’ve been around,” Quinn said in a Sept. 29 phone interview. “I think Austin’s upside is pretty ridiculous. He’s still growing. He’s very skilled at a lot of things. Defensively, especially blocking shots, he’s getting much better at his free throw shooting, he’s working on his range, when he gets to Auburn he’ll be a completely different player. He’s also becoming a wild man in the weight room. He’s put on 25 pounds since last season. He’s a worker.”

While the news of Wiley’s decision has sent waves through the SEC recruiting circuits, he is still two years away from setting foot on campus. In the meantime, he has some plans for his last two years of high school basketball.

“(The goal is) to win it all and give Spain Park its first ring,” he said.