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Charles Barkley is Auburn basketball’s most notable alumnus. The Round Mound of Rebound played four years with the Tigers before going on to become the No. 5 overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft and a Basketball Hall of Fame career.
However, Barkley almost did not play on The Plains. He did not have Auburn at the top of his list.
As the Tigers played to a three-point loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown on Saturday, Barkley joined the broadcast for a large chunk of the first half.
While on the mic, he, Kevin Fitzgerald and Dane Bradshaw discussed a variety of topics from Bob Huggins’ fish fry fundraiser to load management in the NBA. Amidst the conversation, Barkley revealed what he tells high school recruits when they are deciding on a college program.
I tell all of these kids if you want an education, you get an education anywhere. But the No. 1 thing you look at if you’re going to a school is playing time.— Charles Barkley on the recruiting process
In doing so, the 59-year-old former NBA MVP revealed that he chose Auburn because were bad, which allowed him to crack the lineup as a freshman. Except Barkley didn’t use those words.
They sucked, to be honest with you […] It turned out to be the best decision because I got to play right away.— Charles Barkley on why he went to Auburn
Prior to Barkley’s arrival, Auburn had just one 20-win in program history. In 1958.
The Tigers had back-to-back 20+ win seasons in Barkley’s junior and senior year.
Barkley also shared that he was going to stay local, no matter where he ended up. While UAB and Alabama were also in the mix, if not higher on his list, they couldn’t offer him immediate playing time.
I was looking at Alabama, Auburn, UAB. UAB was my first choice, and then I went to Alabama. I went to Auburn and they weren’t very good! And I wanted to play, and it turned into the best decision ever.Charles Barkley on his top-three schools
While recruits in the modern era have a multitude of reasons to decide on a prospective program, including NIL opportunities, Barkley keeps it simple. Go where you can play.
He did, and look where he is now!