How Auburn has strengthened its spot as Georgia's top college basketball program
Auburn's 2021-22 roster has more Georgia players than ever before — and even more than Tom Crean's Bulldogs themselves.
PF Jabari Smith, PF Jaylin Williams and C Walker Kessler (Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
Bruce Pearl estimates that it takes about an hour and 15 minutes to get to Sandy Creek High School from the front door of his house in Auburn.
Sandy Creek is in Tyrone, Georgia — a suburb of Atlanta in the southwestern part of the metro area — and is the home of legendary former NFL receiver Calvin Johnson.
For Auburn fans, especially those who don’t want to remember that Johnson caught the first touchdown pass from Reggie Ball in Georgia Tech’s 2005 win over the Tigers, Sandy Creek is also the home of Jabari Smith Jr.
Pearl and assistant coach Ira Bowman made several trips up Interstate 85 to see Smith work out in the early mornings with his high school coach, who also happens to have a degree from Auburn. (“That didn’t hurt,” Pearl said recently.)
It didn’t take long for Smith to become a household name in recruiting circles. He started getting major scholarship offers as a sophomore. As a senior, Sm…