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Pearl brings in TOP 10 class

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Auburn signs 1st top-10 recruiting class under Bruce Pearl

Updated 3:43 PM; Posted 1:29 PM

Bruce Pearl signed his first top-10 recruiting class at Auburn on Monday. ((Donald Miralle/Getty Images)(Getty Images) 123)

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By Tom Green | tgreen@al.com

tgreen@al.com

For the first time under Bruce Pearl, Auburn has a top-10 signing class.

The Tigers officially announced their 2019 recruiting class on Monday, with the five signees giving Auburn the nation’s 10th-ranked class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. It’s the first time Auburn has had a top-10 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, which date back to 1999, and it’s Pearl’s first since signing the nation’s No. 6 class in 2008 while at Tennessee.

It’s a class that Pearl said “really helps solidify our competitiveness in the future.”

Auburn announced all five signees on Monday: four-star small forward Isaac Okoro, four-star guard Tyrell Jones, four-star power forward Jaylin Williams, three-star center Babatunde Akingbola and three-star small forward Allen Flanigan.

“For me the common denominator for all five of these kids are pretty high character, hungry, humble, not entitled, kind of grew up the hard way,” Pearl said. "They’ve got a level of toughness to them. You put them all together and they’re highly ranked, but I don’t think any one of them is all that much concerned with their own ranking. The positions are one, two, three, four, five as far as the spread of where these guys can play and some of them can play multiple positions. I think it’s a really, really good group; a real solid group.

“Certainly this was a year where we felt the quality of the footprint of high school basketball was very strong, very deep. We’ve been working for several years to try to take advantage of that deep class. Really pleased with each one of them.”

Okoro is the highest-rated player in the class. The 6-foot-5 wingman from McEachern High in Powder Springs, Ga., is rated as the 38th-best player in the 2019 class, the No. 2 player in Georgia and the sixth-best small forward in the nation. He is the third-highest ranked recruit to sign with Auburn under Pearl, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Okoro’s ranking of .9960 is behind former five-stars Mustapha Heron (.9911) and Austin Wiley (.9961).

“Okoro is that type of guy,” Pearl said. “He is. Isaac is — like I talked about Chuma (Okeke) being underrated at 40-something, I don’t know if there are 20 players, I’m not even sure there are 15 players, better than Isaac Okoro in the country. He’s got great versatility, great toughness, really attacks the rim, can cover anybody, can cover point guards, can cover centers. He’ll be one of the most versatile defenders that I’ve ever had.”

Jones, Auburn’s most recent commit, is a 6-foot-1 combo guard out of West Oaks Academy in Orlando, Fla. He is rated as the No. 88 overall player in the 2019 class, the 11th-best player at his position and the No. 13 player in Florida.

“A scoring point guard,” Pearl said. “He can pull it, has great range, he can get in the lane and score, he’s a willing passer. All of the guys have a great work ethic and gym rats and things along those line, tough covers. And he can get out there and guard. I don’t know if he’s as good defensively as Bryce (Brown) is but that would be really nice if he can be identified with his ability to keep people in front and make plays.”

The 6-foot-7 Williams, who committed to Auburn following a mid-September visit, signed with Auburn out of Brantley County in Nahunta, Ga., where he was rated as the No. 120 player in the 2019 class. He is the sixth-best player in Georgia and the 21st-ranked power forward in the country.

“I think Jaylin and Isaac can both play three and four depending upon the matchups and things like that,” Pearl said. “I think they’re versatile. Depending upon how much bigger, stronger, faster, quicker they evolve because they’re all freshmen, it will give us some flexibility.”

Akingbola, a teammate of Okoro’s at McEachern, was the first commitment of the 2019 class to stick with Auburn. While he is just a three-star prospect, the player nicknamed “Stretch” is a top-15 player in Georgia, the No. 249 player nationally and the 47th-ranked center in the class.

“He’s just a rim protector,” Pearl said. "He’s the best rim protector coming out of high school, No. 1. No. 2, defensively he does as good a job of communicating at the back of the defense as anybody. That’s a real strength. One we need to continue to work on and develop. Your center is actually very much like a Mike linebacker calling out signals, calling out plays. All the action is in front of them. Babatunde just does a great job of being communicative, aggressive.

“He defines himself by his ability to protect the rim and rebound the basketball. That’s who he is. He’s better offensively than he gives himself credit for, but that’s not how he defines his game.”

Flanigan, the son of Auburn assistant coach Wes Flanigan, comes to Auburn out of Parkview Magnet in Little Rock, Ark. He is rated as the No. 286 player nationally, the No. 3 player in Arkansas and the No. 63 small forward in the country.

“Great upside; Allen is a terrific athlete," Pearl said. "I think he’s going to be a really good shooter, can guard lots of different positions, gets off the floor quickly with ease. He’s the youngest of the players that we’ve recruited from the standpoint of his age and his development. His best basketball is ahead of him. He’s improved a great deal.”

The class is the third-highest ranked among SEC teams, behind Kentucky’s sixth-ranked class and Florida’s eighth-ranked class.

Pearl’s previous classes at Auburn were ranked 36th (2014), 16th (2015), 12th (2016) and 22nd (2017). The Tigers did not have any 2018 signees.

“It was a very important class, but it was one we were planning on for several years,” Pearl said. "Again, if you look back at archive wise, what is this class? 2019? OK. The 2018 high school class in the southern part of the country was just not very deep and we knew that for years, so we weren’t planning on having to go recruit that class heavily. When it’s a deep class, Auburn can do well. When it’s not a deep class, we just can’t — or it’s really hard to.

“That’s why we try load up in years where there’s great depth and everybody gets well. You want to make sure you have scholarships in those years and that’s what our plan was.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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As posted in the recruiting thread we will not know if this is a top 10 class til all the prospects in this class are signed somewhere in April. It's not likely to end the class year as a Top 10 class. 12-15 is more likely. I wish journalists would hold themselves to a higher standard.

Also include links when posting articles please.

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Great class! Love how well rounded it is. Size,shooting, and playmaking ability. Pearl has done an excellent job getting talented basketball players to AU. Crazy to see how our talent has improved over the last 5 years and is still on an upward trajectory 

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