The Auburn Basketball All-Decade Bracket
The Auburn Observer has put together eight all-decade teams from Auburn basketball history — including a still-growing 2020s roster — and you decide who's the best.
(Player Photos: Auburn Athletics/AuburnTigers.com)
While looking through Auburn football’s media guide at some point during this offseason, I noticed that the program officially lists “Teams of the Decades” dating back to the 1960s.
That prompted a question: Does Auburn basketball have the same thing? The answer is no, although the program posted a massive "Centennial Team” that featured more than 60 names during the late 2000s.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve dug into past media guides and available statistics to come up with The Auburn Observer’s picks for all-decade men’s basketball teams dating back to the 1950s.
But throwing out a group of teams and leaving it at that might be fun for just one summer day. Instead, I want to bring Auburn fans into the process. Since college basketball and brackets go hand-in-hand, why not a fan vote tournament of all these teams to determine the top decade in Tigers history?
For those of you who are better at math than me, you might already be saying, “Wait, the 1950s to the 2010s is only seven decades. Don’t you need an even number for a good bracket?” You are correct, and I would argue that this is the perfect time to add an eighth contender — the 2020s (so far).
Bruce Pearl’s program is in a new era of producing one-and-done talent, and last season’s team reached No. 1 in the country for the first time in school history. Can just two years of elite talent hang with decades of stars from Auburn basketball’s past?
We’re about to find out.
Below, you’ll find the Observer picks for each of the eight all-decade teams. Players were chosen based on accomplishments such as All-American and All-SEC honors, as well as placement in the all-time career and single-season record books at Auburn. Each team has five starters as well as eight reserves — making up a full 13-scholarship roster like you might see in the modern day.
You can review the full teams below, but here are the finals, as voted by the readers:
1980s (White-Ford-Person-Morris-Barkley) vs. 2020s (Cooper-Doughty-Okoro-Smith-Kessler)
Click the link below to vote. You decide the champ.
Bill Kirkpatrick: Kirkpatrick holds the honor of being the first Auburn basketball player to ever be a first-team media All-SEC selection when he averaged 18.7 points per game as a senior in 1955. No one at Auburn in the 1950s had a higher-scoring season than him.
Henry Hart: A multi-year All-SEC selection and the team captain for the conference champions in 1959-60, Hart was also an early-era prolific scorer who once hit 16 free throws in a single game against Alabama.
Don Lanford: A high-efficiency scorer during the early 1950s, Lanford was the first Auburn player to make an All-SEC team on multiple occasions, getting second-team honors back-to-back years.
Rex Frederick: The first All-SEC coaches first-teamer in program history, Frederick averaged a ridiculous 14.3 rebounds per game and was a top scorer for his time. His No. 32 jersey was retired 50 years after his debut season.
Bob Miller: Before Frederick, Miller was the first rebounding star for Auburn, averaging double-digits in back-to-back seasons while also landing on the press’ All-SEC third team in 1954.
Reserves: Detailed information on 1950s players is relatively scarce, but the statistical leaders from this era include Bill Lynn, Dan Pridgen, Bill McGriff, Jimmy Lee, Jim O’Donnell, Jack Turner, Bill Fickling and Ray Groover. They all get nods here.
Bobby Buisson: Known as one of the first star point guards in Auburn basketball history, Buisson was a first-team All-SEC selection in 1967 after averaging double figures in scoring.
Wally Tinker: A two-time All-SEC pick, Tinker was the second player in Auburn history to start every single game of his career. Tinker also had the distinction of scoring the first basket and grabbing the first rebound in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.
Layton Johns: Johns was a big-time player in the SEC, averaging a double-double in back-to-back seasons and leading the league in field goal percentage during both of those campaigns. He was also the SEC’s “MVP” in 1963.
Lee DeFore: When DeFore finished his Auburn career in 1967, he was the Tigers’ all-time leading scorer. He averaged 19.3 points per game for his entire three-year career, including an SEC-best 21.7 per night mark as a senior.
Joe Newton: An early version of the dominant big man at the collegiate level, the 6-foot-8 Newton was a first-team All-SEC selection as a senior after averaging 14.8 points and 9.5 boards per game.
Reserves: The reserves are led by Jimmy Fibbe, a Kentucky native best known for hitting clutch free throws to beat his home-state Wildcats in an SEC championship season. The likes of John Blackwell, Freddie Guy and Alex Howell all made All-SEC teams, while Tom Perry, Larry Cart, David Vaughn and Jimmy Montgomery round out the crew for being statistical leaders during this era.
Eddie Johnson: “Fast Eddie” started his college career on a tear, averaging 21.8 points per game to lead the SEC in scoring as a freshman. The late Johnson was a three-time first-team All-SEC selection, becoming one of the few players in program history to hold that distinction.
John Mengelt: During an era when virtually every SEC contender had a high-volume scorer, Mengelt was Auburn’s go-to guy. There are 13 different 40-point games in Auburn history — and Mengelt has eight of them, including each of the top four.
Stan Pietkiewicz: A 6-foot-5 guard, Pietkiewicz held his own during the massive stat explosions of this era, averaging 19.1 points per game as an All-SEC senior. He was money from the free throw line (83.4% for his career) and still sits in the top 10 in assists in Auburn history.
Mike Mitchell: Mitchell was a statistical titan at Auburn, as he left the Plains with the most points (2,123) and rebounds (996) in program history. Mitchell made an All-SEC team four different times and was the first Tiger to make an All-American second team in the modern era.
Pepto Bolden: Come on. You know he was getting on this team.
Reserves: The 1970s were dominated by the multi-year starters on this list, which makes Jim Retseck, Gary England, Bobby Cattage and Gary Redding leading the team in anything even more impressive. Bubba Price and Earl Banks make this squad for their defensive contributions, along with former All-SECers Henry Harris and Bill Alexander.
Charles Barkley (Matthew Shannon/Auburn Athletics)
Gerald White: Auburn’s all-time assist leader at 624 — the next closest is at 573 — White was a major offensive engine for several years on the Plains. He’s the only player to average more than 5 assists per game for the Tigers and also ranks inside the top 10 all-time for steals.
Frank Ford: No Auburn player has ever logged more total minutes (4,374) than the late Ford, who shot above 50% for his career as a guard and is another top-10 finisher in the career steals chart. Ford averaged double-digits in scoring during each of his final three seasons and was also a great rebounder for his position.
Chuck Person: Acknowledging the obvious major scandal during his time as an assistant coach, “The Rifleman” is still one of the very best to ever play at Auburn, in any sport. The three-time All-SEC first-teamer is the program’s all-time leading scorer at 2,311 points, despite the fact he played before the 3-point line, and is the No. 3 rebounder at 940 boards.
Chris Morris: The definition of a do-it-all star, Morris is inside the top 10 of the career record books at Auburn in (inhales) games, minutes played, points, rebounds, steals, blocks and true shooting percentage. Morris was a two-time All-SEC first-teamer who went on to become the No. 4 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Charles Barkley: The face of Auburn to the basketball world, Barkley was already legendary before he attained that Hall of Fame status in the NBA. He was an SEC Player of the Year, a third-team All-American, a three-time All-SEC pick and a league tournament MVP. “Icon” doesn’t begin to describe him.
Reserves: Here’s how loaded the 1980s starting lineup is — Jeff Moore, a first-team All-SEC pick who nearly averaged a double-double in back-to-back seasons, is coming off the bench here. Other former All-SECers making up the reserves include Odell Mosteller, Darrell Lockhart and Keenan Carpenter. John Caylor and Matt Geiger provide more power up front, while Paul Daniels and Derrick Dennison round out the backcourt.
Doc Robinson: The Selma native became an All-American as the floor general for the legendary 1999 team. In the career record books at Auburn, he ranks third in assists, third in defensive win shares, fifth in overall win shares, seventh in games played, eighth in minutes played and 10th in steals.
Ronnie Battle: Battle was a certified bucket-getter, averaging at least 16.5 points per game in all four of his seasons with the program. He was an All-SEC pick three different times, including the rare feat of earning a first-team spot in his freshman and senior seasons.
Wesley Person: A three-time All-SEC selection, Wesley is not too far behind Chuck in most of the scoring leaderboards for the Tigers and holds the distinction for shooting a ridiculous 44.1% from deep for his career. Also, at an even 35 minutes per game, no one in an Auburn uniform has ever been on the floor more often than him.
Chris Porter: In just two seasons, Porter became one of the most electrifying players in Auburn history. He averaged 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and an Auburn-record 2.1 steals per game while becoming the first-ever first-team All-American and only the second-ever SEC Player of the Year for the Tigers.
Mamadou N’Diaye: There’s only one reasonable pick for the center of the 1990s at Auburn — “Hello, Dakar, Senegal.” N’Diaye ranks second all-time in career blocks and has both the career defensive win shares and overall win shares records for the program by massive margins.
Reserves: Wes Flanigan and Moochie Norris lock things down behind Robinson at point, while Lance Weems and Scott Pohlman provide extra scoring. The frontcourt has several All-SEC selections with headliner Aaron Swinson, Bryant Smith and Pat Burke. Franklin Williams gets a spot for being a great player with an even better nickname of “The Governor.”
Marquis Daniels (Matthew Shannon/Auburn Athletics)
Jamison Brewer: Brewer was only a starter for a single campaign at Auburn, but he made quite an impact during that 2000-01 season. He led the SEC in assists (187) and was one of the top 10 players in the league in steals and overall defensive impact.
Tay Waller: One of the most prolific long-range shooters in Auburn history, Waller averaged 13.5 points per game in his two seasons on the Plains. He led all of college basketball in effective field goal percentage during the 2009-10 season at 62.3%, a number usually reserved for big men.
Marquis Daniels: The biggest success story of the 2000s for Auburn basketball, Daniels stepped into a starting role in 2000 and averaged double figures over the next three seasons, including 18.4 points per game in a senior season that finished in the Sweet 16. Daniels was a two-time All-SEC selection who went on to play a decade in the NBA despite going undrafted.
Korvotney Barber: The late, great Barber holds the distinction of having the most offensive and defensive rebounds of any Auburn player since 2000 — and he was just 6-foot-7. Barber started 101 games in four seasons for the Tigers, and he nearly averaged a double-double (12.8 PPG and 9.6 RPG) during his senior season that earned him second-team All-SEC honors.
Kyle Davis: Before Walker Kessler, there was the 7-foot wonder. Davis led the SEC in blocks during all four of his seasons on the Plains and still sits third all-time in the conference’s career record books.
Reserves: The backcourt off the bench has some veteran leadership in DeWayne Reed and Quantez Robertson, a pair of four-year starters. And while he became a future NBAer at Florida State, Toney Douglas’ lone Auburn season deserves a spot. Adam Harrington, Rasheem Barrett and Frank Tolbert round out a guard-heavy unit, while Marco Killingsworth and Quan Prowell check in for the frontcourt.
Jared Harper: Bruce Pearl has always had a thing for smaller point guards, but that went to the next level during Harper’s career at Auburn. A two-time All-SEC selection, Harper is the program’s career record holder for assist percentage (29.9%) and offensive win shares (9.3).
Bryce Brown: Brown rewrote the 3-point shooting record books during his four-year time on the Plains, where he went from underrated 2 guard to the second-most prolific gunner in SEC history. On top of his sharpshooting prowess, Brown was also a great perimeter defender.
KT Harrell: A big-name transfer who helped launch the Pearl era, Harrell averaged more than 18 points per game in both of his seasons at Auburn and led the SEC in 3-pointers, 3-point percentage, effective field goal percentage and free throws made as a senior.
Chuma Okeke: Okeke’s massive spark off the bench did wonders for the SEC title team in 2017-18, and he was the best all-around player on the Final Four squad a year later. The near-lottery pick was second all-time at Auburn in career PER and first in total win shares.
Anfernee McLemore: He didn’t get the All-SEC honors and professional basketball futures of his fellow teammates on this list, but the elite rim-protecting McLemore was a huge reason why Auburn’s small-ball strategy took the program to new heights under Pearl.
Reserves: You want to see a fun bench? Let’s start with longtime program leader Frankie Sullivan and former All-SEC pick Chris Denson. Mustapha Heron, another all-conference pick, occupies the wing with the all-vertical duo of Kenny Gabriel and Malik Dunbar. DeSean Murray and Austin Wiley get deserved spots for their rebounding dominance. And, of course, we have to include big man/point god Cinmeon Bowers.
Sharife Cooper (Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
The 2020s (so far)
Sharife Cooper: It was only 12 games, but Cooper averaged a massive 20.2 points and 8.1 assists — all against SEC competition — during his shortened freshman season on the Plains. As an offensive engine, he’s in a rare class among Auburn point guards.
Samir Doughty: Yes, Doughty played more in the 2010s than the 2020s, but he deserved a starter nod after becoming Auburn’s first member of the coaches’ All-SEC first team since Doc Robinson in 2020. On top of that, Doughty was a starter on the Final Four team a year earlier.
Isaac Okoro: Perhaps the best all-around defensive weapon to ever play for Bruce Pearl, Okoro’s lone season on the Plains was a revelation. In addition to his lockdown 1 through 5 skills, Okoro averaged 12.9 points per game en route to becoming a top-five pick.
Jabari Smith: For all the star power Auburn basketball has had over the years, Smith has a real chance to stand alone as the only one to become a No. 1 overall pick. The All-American power forward shot 42% from deep — at 6-foot-10 — and was the first Tiger to win a national Freshman of the Year honor.
Walker Kessler: Not to be totally outdone by his frontcourt teammate, Kessler became the first Tiger to be named a National Defensive Player of the Year for his shot-blocking dominance. Kessler’s PER of 31.4 is the best mark for a single season in program history.
Reserves: With only two seasons to pick from here, the reserves for the 2020s squad should be quite familiar. Take last season’s team — Wendell Green Jr., Zep Jasper, K.D. Johnson, Allen Flanigan, Devan Cambridge, Jaylin Williams and Dylan Cardwell — and add one-and-done JT Thor to it.
First Round: 1980s (The Two Chucks) defeated 1950s (Frederick and Co.)
First Round: 2020s (The One-and-Dones) defeated 2000s (Marquis and Vot)
First Round: 1990s (Doc, Person and Porter) defeated 1960s (The First Champs)
First Round: 2010s (The Final Four) defeated 1970s (Mengelt and Mitchell)
Semifinals: 1980s defeated 2010s
Semifinals: 2020s defeated 1990s
Final: 1980s vs. 2020s
Vote for your picks, discuss the teams and the matchups in the comments below, and feel free to share the link to this story on social media.
As an older guy, I hated the 70's first round match up. There are very special players in that group. Remember there was no 3 point line when they were averaging those point totals.