AUBURN, Ala. – Following the greatest season in Auburn basketball history that included a run to the Final Four and a Southeastern Conference Tournament title, head coach Bruce Pearl and Tigers have signed three elite players during the 2019-20 early signing period.
Auburn has received signed National Letters of Intent from Sharife Cooper, Chris Moore and Justin Powell to give the Tigers a consensus top-15 recruiting class, including the ninth-best class in the country, according to ESPN. All three signees are expected to enroll in the summer of 2020.
“We signed three great kids who have all worked extremely hard to try to separate themselves from the competition – Justin Powell as an elite shooter, Sharife Cooper as a unique and special playmaker and scorer, and Chris Moore as a powerful, versatile mismatch,” Pearl said.
“All three have been competing at the highest levels of AAU and high school basketball in areas of the country that love basketball. Sharife is a state and national champion. West Memphis, Arkansas and Kentucky are geographic areas with deep history and tradition of great high school basketball.”
Cooper, a consensus five-star prospect, is currently the highest-rated prospect ever to sign with Auburn. The Powder Springs, Ga. native is a top-20 player nationally across the board (No. 16 – Rivals, No. 17 – ESPN, No. 19 – 247Sports) and is rated as the No. 2 point guard in the country, according to ESPN and 247Sports.
While playing for McEachern High School, Cooper was named the 2018-19 USA Today National Player of the Year after leading the Indians to a 32-0 record and a state title while averaging 28.6 points, 8.7 assists, six rebounds and 4.1 steals per game. During the run to the state championship, the 6-foot, 160-pound point guard had four 40-point games and averaged 25 points, nine assists, six rebounds and three steals against USA Today Super 25 opponents.
Cooper has played for Athletes of Tomorrow on the AAU summer circuit where he averaged 25 points, eight assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.
“What jumps out to me about Sharife is loyalty,” Pearl said. “He could have gone anywhere in the country. Auburn was his first love and he stayed loyal to us. We were the first to recognize that this was a very special, don’t-come-around-often type of impact players. He appreciated that fact that we recruited him hard before it became fashionable.”
Moore is labeled as a four-star player by Rivals and a three-star by both 247Sports and ESPN. He is the No. 101 player nationally, according to Rivals, and No. 126 overall, according to 247Sports. Moore is pegged as the No. 4 player out of Arkansas by both Rivals and 247Sports.
The West Memphis, Ark. native boasts an efficient game as he led West Memphis High School to the state semifinals behind 17.2 points per game on 63 percent shooting from the floor. He also added 13.0 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.5 blocks per game as a junior.
Moore, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward, played for Woodz Elite in the Nike EYBL circuit and averaged 17.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. He finished fourth in the circuit overall in total plus-minus.
“Simply put, Chris is a beast,” Pearl stated. “He is a guy that I would like others to look at and say, ‘that’s the brand of Auburn basketball.’ He’s really skilled with the basketball for somebody his size. He’s able to create off the bounce with his ability to handle the rock. Defensively, he is a guy that can guard anybody on the floor.”
Powell is tabbed as a four-star by ESPN and a three-star by both 247Sports and Rivals. He is the No. 1 player out of Kentucky and the No. 82 player in the country, according to ESPN. Powell is also labeled as the No. 153 prospect nationally by 247Sports.
The Goshen, Ky. native is currently enrolled at North Oldham High School for his final season as a prep. After playing his first two seasons at Trinity High School in Louisville, Ky., Powell transferred back to his home state after suiting up for Montverde Academy in Florida.
Powell played with the Indy Heat on the Nike EYBL circuit over the summer. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound guard averaged 13.2 points and shot 50 percent from the floor in the competition, including a blistering 55 percent from beyond the arc. Powell also contributed 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
“While Justin is certainly known for being an elite perimeter shooter with incredible range, it’s the fact that he’s worked so hard on his body, speed, quickness and his ability to defend that pushed our interest over the top,” Pearl said. “He’s worked so hard on the other areas of his game to help compliment his ability to score. He is a great competitor.”
– War Eagle –