Charles Barkley shares his message to Bruce Pearl after the season

Charles Barkley shares his message to Bruce Pearl after the season

HOOVER, Alabama – As a fan or former top college athlete, there isn’t much more investment in their school or team than Charles Barkleywho, especially when the spotlight widens during the NCAA Tournament, always expresses his enthusiasm and fandom for Bruce Pearl and Auburn basketball, as well as other Auburn sports.

He gave fans a memorable image to add to the spectacle of Auburn’s run to the Final Four in 2019, when he decorated his seat on the March Madness television set with Auburn decorations and balloons. He gave his cohort, Kenny Smith, heartache for days when the Tigers hit North Carolina, Smith’s alma mater, in the Sweet Sixteen.

And in recent seasons, Barkley’s support has continued to swell, as he regularly highlights Pearl’s teams on his platforms, and also mentions Auburn’s handful of NBA players.

There was plenty to celebrate last year, when the Tigers climbed to No. program history lecture.

So Barkley laughed that the 2021-22 campaign would be anything but a huge success – although he understood why fans were disappointed. Auburn did not reach the second weekend of the tournament.

“It was an interesting year for Auburn because it ended on a negative note,” Barkley said Wednesday before the 2022 Regions Tradition Celebrity Golf Event at Hoover. “I love Bruce Pearl. To tell you how far Auburn basketball has come: I never thought we’d get to the point where we’d win an NCAA game and people would be disappointed. C is to his credit.”

Shortly after the season ended in Greenville with an unsightly loss to Miami in the Round of 16, Barkley called Pearl and shared his support for what the now ninth-year Auburn coach said. he accomplished, and reminded him to reflect on how the state of the program has changed dramatically under his leadership.

“I told him privately – and I’ll tell him publicly too, ‘Think about it,'” Barkley said. “… It’s a credit to Coach Pearl and his team – the idea that Auburn actually won a March Madness game and then they lost, and we were disappointed .”

Auburn won 27 regular season games, also a program record. Pearl received a contract extension in January that extended him through 2030 and made him, effective May 1, the fourth highest-paid coach in college basketball. He is now No. 3, after Villanova Jay Wright retired this offseason.

Gone is what was perhaps the best frontcourt in the nation last season, Jabari Smith and Walker Kesler, both of whom are thrown in the first round. Smith could become No. 1 overall. The Tigers’ trio of guards return, as do three other members of the primary rotation.

Much like last offseason, Pearl will likely barge in five newcomers — just last year there were four transfers and one freshman. This summer, that ratio could be traded, with the Morehead State big man John Broome the only transfer at the moment, five stars Yohan Traore the most recent addition in 2022, and with Auburn hoping to take the final purse spot with a five-star forward Julian Phillips Thursday.

“Whether it’s reloading or rebuilding, it’s going to be for the eye of the beholder,” Pearl said. “I just think the summer is going to be a really good competition, just like last summer. It was good. I think it gives us a chance – the kids are going to improve. They are going to improve each other. We have to improve. … (Freshmen) are going to come in, and they’re going to push these guys.

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