Auburn Basketball: Bruce Pearl snags one of 2018’s top prospects

A top-25 prospect in 2018 will join Bruce Pearl and the Auburn basketball program.

Head coach Bruce Pearl was brought to Auburn with the thought that he could attract fans to the basketball team that is overpowered by a perennial SEC contending football squad. He was hired to recruit at the highest level and produce results on the court.

While the NCAA Tournament appearances have not begun during the Pearl era, the head coach is racking up major commitments on the recruiting trail.

Auburn put together a solid 2015 class, added three more commitments in 2016, have one of the best groups in the country in 2017 and have now gotten a jump start on 2018.

On Thursday night, the Tigers landed another monster addition as 2018 four-star power forward E.J. Montgomery verbally committed to the program. Montgomery chose the Tigers over Baylor, Miami (FL), North Carolina State and UCLA.

The 6’10”, 215 pound forward from Fort Pierce, FL is ranked 23rd in ESPN’s top 60 for the class of 2018. He is the 4th best player in the state of Florida and the 9th best power forward in the nation. Montgomery plays his high school basketball at Montverde Academy in Florida, which is where Ben Simmons and D’Angelo Russell attended high school.

So why is this such a critical addition.

Beyond possessing undeniable potential and upside, Montgomery is long, lean, athletic and versatile. He is terrific in transition, as he can finish above the rim with authority and is a capable rebounder on both ends of the court.

Montgomery also plays within himself and maintains a sense of maturity beyond his years. He has an excellent feel for the game, doesn’t force anything on the offensive end and has a high basketball IQ.

He has a lot of skills that will be unleashed over the next couple of years of high school career, so Auburn is not gaining a finished product just yet.

And that’s fine because his presence alongside the other recruits that Auburn has landed, will help the Tigers battle at the top of the SEC.

In 2015, Pearl saw two four-star recruits join the team in Horace Spencer and Danjel Purifoy. Then Pearl snagged the services of two five-star recruits, Mustapha Heron and Jared Harper, and another four-star prospect, Anfernee McLemore, this year.

2017 is Pearl’s best class yet, as very few teams in the country can compete with what the Tigers have on the table. Five-star center Austin Wiley is the gem of the class, but Davion Mitchell and Chuma Okeke also have the ability and talent to have an impact right away as four-star prospects.

This sure doesn’t secure success for Auburn basketball, but what it does do, is it puts the Tigers in the category of Mississippi State as potential teams who are the future challengers to Kentucky.

Montgomery won’t take the floor in a college game until 2018-19, but his commitment stands out in the bigger picture: Auburn continues to warn other SEC teams that they are coming.

This article originally appeared on