Auburn defeated a strong mid-major team in Davidson by 10 points on Friday in the Veterans Classic. It was a neutral site showdown in Annapolis, Maryland hosted by Navy. The Tigers were led by freshman Isaac Okoro in his second career game.
Okoro led the team in scoring with 16 points on 5 of 7 shooting. Auburn got off to a fast start due in large part to Okoro who knocked down two 3-pointers in the game’s opening minutes. This included a step back three with four seconds left on the shot clock.
“I knew once my first shot went down that it was going to be a pretty good game for me,” Okoro said. “That 3-pointer really gave me confidence for the whole game.”
He continued the scoring effort through the first half and ended it with 11 points. Davidson accounted for Okoro during the second half by holding him to five points. He was the only Tiger to play all 20 minutes in the second half.
He showed off his defensive skillset when defending Davidson’s most dynamic scorers in Jon Axel Gudmundsson and Kellan Grady who both averaged 17 points per game last season. They were held to a combined 13 points on 4 of 17 shooting.
Against Georgia Southern, Okoro also scored in double figures with 12 points on 6 of 9 shooting in his collegiate debut. He is the lone freshman to be in the starting lineup for Auburn.
As a prospect, Okoro was considered a great defensive player and tough athlete who needed to fine tune his offensive game. Okoro has already shown solid offense in his opening games as an Auburn Tiger.
When Okoro signed with Auburn in November of 2018, coach Bruce Pearl was already giving praise to the youngster.
“I’m not sure there are 15 players in the country better than Isaac Okoro,” Pearl said.
The praise not only comes from Bruce Pearl before he arrived at Auburn but has carried over to the leaders of the locker room following wins. Senior Samir Doughty immediately took notice of Okoro’s play following the season opening win over Georgia Southern.
“He was efficient and was flying around,” Doughty said. “He was doing the little stuff that we're use to him doing, posting him up. We're going to use him a lot more than y'all think, but I think he played a good all-around game.”
Bruce Pearl was optimistic during the preseason about the backcourt that Isaac Okoro has joined. He teams up with seniors J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty to form a trio of great defenders.
"I said earlier in the season I thought that J'Von, Samir and Isaac could be a really strong defensive backcourt, and they showed that obviously tonight," Pearl said following the win over Davidson.
Isaac Okoro has the potential to be a top draft pick whenever he decides to enter the draft. He has already appeared in 2020 mock drafts even as high as a top 15 pick. If Okoro’s shooting improves, his draft stock will also improve.
The freshman already has a large role but expect it to increase as time goes on and he gains more experience.
Isaac Okoro and the Auburn Tigers will be back in action on Tuesday against South Alabama in Mobile for its first true road test. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on ESPN+ or the Auburn Sports Network.
Auburn football wasn't the Auburn team in action on Saturday. Auburn women’s basketball was back in action for its second game of the season, notching its second win in a close one, 66-64 over Samford.