Even off the bench, Stretch Akingbola is off to a strong start as a sophomore
Through three games, Bruce Pearl's Tigers are playing some of their best ball when their shot-swatting big man is on the floor.
For most of the preseason, it was assumed that Stretch Akingbola would be the new starting center for Auburn basketball.
But when the lineups for Auburn vs. Saint Joseph’s were announced on Thanksgiving afternoon, Akingbola and fellow center Dylan Cardwell were on the bench. Instead, Bruce Pearl opted for the versatile Jaylin Williams to start at center, with dynamic true freshman JT Thor getting the nod at power forward.
That didn’t stop Akingbola from having a major impact in the Tigers’ overtime win over the Hawks. And playing off the bench — which he did again in the next two contests, losses to No. 1 Gonzaga and UCF — hasn’t led to quieter nights for the sophomore big man.
Through the first three games of the season, Akingbola is leading Auburn in player efficiency rating (PER) at 16.8. He’s slightly ahead of Williams, who was the MVP for the Tigers in the Saint Joseph’s win and has been huge on both ends of the floor when he’s been able to avoid foul trouble.
The numbers are high on…