Barbee talks about basketball signees

Auburn coach Tony Barbee signed three players in the early signing period last week in point guard Cedrick McAfee from Melrose in Memphis, Tenn., and center Willy Kouassi and forward Bernard Morena from Central Park Christian in Birmingham, Ala.

Cedrick McAfee signs a National Letter of Intent with Auburn.

“I am excited about our first full-time signing class for this fall,” Barbee said. “I think we addressed some needs that we have as a program and are continuing to build the depth as a part of this team, especially in the guard position with Cedric McAfee. He is going to add a lot in terms of his versatility and his ability to play multiple positions because of his athleticism at 6-3 and his skill to be able to score the ball and also run a team.”

McAfee, who is 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, averaged 24 points per game at Craigmont High last year before transferring to Melrose in the middle of the season. He had 18 points in the Golden Wildcats’ season-opening 66-34 victory over Fairley.

McAfee chose Auburn over Memphis, Baylor, South Carolina, Missouri, Miami, Arkansas and Florida International.

“I am excited about Cedric and what he is going to bring to the floor but also because I think all three of the guys are going to be great Auburn men,” Barbee said. “They really represent what Auburn stands for … great people, great character and really good students who are fantastic basketball players and more importantly, they all come from winning programs under great coaches.”

Kouassi, who is 6-foot-10 and 215 pounds, and Morena, who is 6-foot-8 and 195 pounds, are both natives of the Ivory Coast. Kouassi chose Auburn over Florida, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Missouri, Georgia, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Alabama, UAB, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Nebraska and Tulsa. Morena chose the Tigers over UAB, Alabama, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

Kouassi averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds for loaded Birmingham Central Park Christian that won the National Association of Christian Athletes national title last season. Morena averaged 10 points.

“Willy and Bernard are going to be fantastic players for us,” Barbee said. “They are fantastic kids and fantastic students, but they both bring a different dimension. Willy brings us a bigger presence along the frontline who can rebound and really block shots. He is very athletic for his size at 6-10 and has a high motor and high energy level. He has to get better on the offensive end of the floor, but he can score down there given the opportunity.

“I am excited about Bernard because he gives us a 6-8 versatile inside-out player who can play on the wing. He can play from the post. He can shoot it. He can score around the basket. He has long arms, and he is very athletic so he will be a very good defender on the perimeter with his length. We are excited about this first full-time class and look forward to possibly signing a couple more late.”

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