Fans react to Jared Harper’s campus return

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The 2019 Auburn basketball Final Four run single-handedly defined the program heading into the (so far) not-so-roarin’ twenties, inspiring five-star recruits like Sharife Cooper, Jabari Smith, and UNC transfer Walker Kessler to sign on the dotted line with Bruce Pearl and the Tigers.

Never before was the “Loveliest Village on the Plains” a true contender for a majority of the 5-star recruits in the country until then. Beating out the likes of Kentucky, UCLA, UCONN, and UNC…for a basketball recruit?

A mere fantasy during the Tony Barbee and Jeff Lebo eras.

Even the first half of Pearl’s tenure was bumpy. Recruiting violations in Knoxville made him somewhat of a pariah, and the Tigers took a chance on reviving his career when they brought him on seven years ago after his banishment from Tennessee.

Now, though, the fruits of his labor have paid off, and that 2019 team is about 80% of the reason why (yes, that number is arbitrary). The driving force behind that run following Chuma Okeke’s season-ending injury is current New York Knicks guard Jared Harper.

Harper and Bryce Brown formed the perfect backcourt to engineer the impossible, and a missed Ty Jerome double-dribble is perhaps the reason Auburn basketball doesn’t have an NCAA Championship banner hanging in the Auburn Arena.

Harper visited campus recently, and fans were overjoyed about his return, evoking memories of that era-defining outfit:

Harper’s Knicks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in five games to the Atlanta Hawks, and Harper was glued to the bench all series. If only Tom Thibodeau knew what Pearl saw first-hand two years ago about the speedy floor general’s leadership.

Either way, the love will never go away. Jared Harper will forever be a valued member of the Auburn basketball family.

War Eagle!



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