Sunday, May 28, 2017

TCA Yearbook Page 1 --Austin Wiley Class of '16

When Austin Wiley arrived at the doorstep in late August, plenty of heavy expectations, hype, and hearsay followed.
 At just 17 years old—and possessing physical and mental maturity beyond his years—Wiley was fresh off an MVP performance at the prestigious Under Armour Elite 24 game in Brooklyn. 

Wiley earned the hardware by scoring 22 points and pulling down 12 boards, turning in the game’s lone double-double. He earned respect on a star-spangled court which included prodigious young talent such as Trevon Duvall and Isaiah Washington.

Laced with the quiet killer instincts and an advanced toolset of post-up moves, the 6-foot-11 Wiley quickly became the focal point of the first-year program.

That’s how head coach Shaun Wiseman wanted it to be, recognizing the double duty threat Wiley presented since his days at Spain Park High (AL).

 Developing a rapport with heady point guard David Sloan and bullish, bounce-heavy 6-foot-4 combo guard Luguentz Dort helped the team develop a fluid inside-outside game. 

It was surely a necessity, given the team's overabundance of undersized guards and lack of mobile forwards. 

Wiley was actually a minimal factor in the prep team's first-ever performance, a season-opening 70-62 victory over Elijah Weaver and eventual SIAA champion Oldsmar Christian.

Rather than feeding the post, TCA was sparked by consistent scoring from the explosive Dort (who earned offers from Florida, Louisville, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Baylor that summer). 

Sloan, who scored 16 points, stabilized Conrad during a dizzying second half. The crafty 5-foot-11 point guard knocked down high-pressure shots, enabling Conrad to cling onto its lead. 
Ultimately the hot hand of underrated junior off guard Malcolm Farrington proved to be the difference maker.

TCA nearly frittered away a 16-point lead, which melted to seven at one point. 

With the pressure ratcheted up a few notches, a visibly rattled Wiseman called for timeout.

The ensuing play unfolded as Farrington emerged from the corner, came off a screen and popped a contested 3-pointer. 

Though Farrington's timely trey wasn’t a true dagger, it stymied Oldmar's comeback bid.

"Coach always instills confidence in me and always tells me to be ready at all times so it just sticks in my head," said Farrington, who fired in a game-best 5-of-7 from downtown.

"An open shot is a good shot for any shooter. I was feeling it so I had no hesitation at all. As soon as the ball touched my hands I just looked at the rim. I had enough space so I just pulled it."

Wiley soon found his niche as a massive, rim-protecting big. 

He incorporated a steady supply of post moves. He scored above the rim, at point blank, and through ramped up double and triple teams at the rim.  

Following a 27-point performance during a loss to Deandre Ayton and Hillcrest Prep in the Bahamas, Wiley was the catalyst in TCA's back to back wins during the Charlotte Hoops Challenge on Thanksgiving. 

Smooth in the souped-up attack,  Wiley combined to score 42 points and grab 25 rebounds in a pair of wins over Independence (NC) and Bishop Sullivan (Va.).

Luguentz Dort (23 points) scored at will and turned in several extravagant dunks tailor cut for the poster, Wiley was equally as perilous.

The Auburn-bound big's defensive aptitude got TCA jump-started, as he had four first quarter blocks against Independence while manipulating countless shots.

Fame and Fanfare found Wiley quickly in Florida and beyond.
The Alabama-bred big was often pinned for photos with considerably smaller fans from all over.


ZS: How would you descripe your visit to Auburn and which aspects of the school had the most appeal to you?

AW: My trip was great. I had fun. The coaching staff really helped me make my decision. I am cool with all of them, especially coach (Bruce) Pearl and coach (Chuck) Person. Coach Person is my cousin,  I've known him my whole life.

My family ties, the tradition, and the opportunity to get the basketball program where it needs to be at helped me choose Auburn. I want to start a new legacy.  I am up for the challenge. They were recruiting me since I was in ninth grade, when BP got hired.

If it wasn't about basketball, I would still go to Auburn. I just love the campus and love the people.

ZS: How do you describe the recruiting class of 2017 at Auburn?

AW: We are definitely a solid class. We all bring different aspects with our games. I feel like we should be special when it is all said and done. 

Davion Mitchell and Chuma, I got to hang out with them a lot this weekend. Davion's got quickness and ability in the pick and roll game. His ball handling is crazy. His bounce is impressive. I can't wait to get started with him.

Chuma, he brings toughness and attacking. He's going to create a lot of mismatches at the 3 and the 4 position and he's going to help me a lot.

 He's going to help by stretching the floor and helping me rebound the ball.

ZS: What are you looking to attain this year at The Conrad Academy (FL)?

AW: I want to get better in the court and in the classroom, work on my body, get in top-shelf shape, and just mature as a human being. 

What I like about Coach Wiseman's system is he likes to speed it up and I like to play at a fast pace. So I just think that will help me evolve my game.

I like the fact that I'm going to be playing against top-level competition. From what I've heard, the SIAA is serious and I'll be challenged every night. 

Also getting my body right and working with my man coach Brad (Traina) has helped. Coach Brad is an absolute machine in there. He's played the game at the professional level and he's still in the right shape and can give us the right ingredients on how to be successful working on our game or any little thing that will push us to be better the next day.

It was real tough to say goodbye to Spain Park HS (AL) because I grew up in the Birmingham area and I was born and raised there. So, it was hard to say goodbye to everyone. Everyone was supportive of my decision, they wished me nothing but the best.

ZS: Who has been the most influential figure in your development as a player and your career?

AW: Both my parents. Aubrey Wiley and Vickie Orr Wiley. They've always pushed me to be the best student and the best athlete and they've given me life lessons that will help me in the long run. They've always told me to stay humble, to not judge people and to keep family first.

ZS: Do you feel any pressure, knowing your mom's storied legacy at Auburn and your father's memorable as an Auburn forward and eventually a pro player overseas?

AW: No, to be honest. None at all. They've done a good job of taking it off. I think I've created my own image and being my own person, staying true to myself and not trying to emulate others. I've always tried to stay on my own path.

ZS: What was the top-8 you narrowed it down to and which factors played into your decision to choose Auburn over the others?

AW: Auburn, Alabama, Duke, LSU, Mississippi State, Florida, UAB, and Kansas were my top-8. With Auburn, I just wanted to see a program that's not where it's supposed to be ultimately get to where they want to be. I love the idea of being an underdog and surprising people. It was a challenge and I think it was a challenge I was suited for as a competitor. 

ZS: What aspects of your game are you looking to refine and enhance during this season?

AW: My face-up game, shooting, and just getting more post moves into my arsenal. I'm going to add to what I'm already capable of.

Coach Brad Traina, he's been great with preparing me and getting my face-up game polished. 

He's helping me improve my footwork, conditioning, and helping me add new facets to my arsenal of moves and finishing ability and really working at assessing my game and making it better. 

It's great because we have another 7-footer in Ari (Boya), who has coach Johann (Mpondo) showing him the ropes of the big man game and really helping him evolve. So I think we're going to be ready with our frontcourt this season.

ZS: What do you hope to accomplish this season, as the final chapter of your high school career?

AW: First and foremost to win a championship. That would put the cherry on top. I also want to win the league and help the program grow in here in Orlando. It's only a year, but I'd like to make the most of my time and opportunity here.


                                                            November 9, 2016


For the past several months, Austin Wiley has spent considerable time on the road. The commitment to excellence takes maturity and sacrifice.

 A hyper-competitive basketball schedule has allowed him to visit Spain, New York City, and most recently Florida.

Last month, he spent time in Colorado training with the USA basketball team.

The suddenly well-traveled Center is cognizant that he won't always have his tight-knit, Birmingham-bred family around him.

And so on Wiley's signing day today in Orlando, he spent five minutes FaceTime chatting with his mother, Vickie Orr Wiley.

It was an event Orr Wiley,  back home in Birmingham, Ala., simply did not want to miss.

Sporting a perma-smile and a blue and gray hoodie with AUBURN emblazoned on the front, Wiley inked his LOI and made it official.

"It's a blessing, I'm just glad to get it over with," said Wiley, who chose Auburn over Duke, Kansas, LSU, UAB, and a barrage of other top-shelf high-major programs.

"Not just basketball-wise, it is a great place for me overall. I really enjoyed the school. Even if I didn't play basketball, I would go there as a regular student. That's how much I think of it. I love the family environment."

Auburn represents family both figuratively and literally for Wiley.

The aforementioned Orr Wiley was a legendary basketball player at Auburn, piloting the team to numerous national title game berths. She collected two medals during her career with the United States national women's basketball team.

His father, Aubrey Wiley, played forward at Auburn. He was known as a tactical big man who embraced the physicality of the interior. This was during an era rife with bruisers, when a rougher style was green-lighted.

Wiley's cousin, Auburn alum and former NBA forward Chuck Person, is currently an assistant coach under Bruce Pearl. His other cousin, former NBA guard Wesley Person, played alongside his father during their Auburn heyday.

 Wiley was quick to note his close relationship with Bruce Pearl eventually facilitated a decision of this magnitude.

"Our recruiting class is a group of guys who have the chance to make an immediate impact," Wiley said.

"We all work hard and we all have kind of an edge to us, to where we don't take losing as an option. We're all going to bring everyone together, we should be able to make history at Auburn."