3-star center Dylan Cardwell commits, gives Auburn much-needed big man

Josh Vitale
Montgomery Advertiser
Dylan Cardwell dunks while playing for the Athletes of Tomorrow travel basketball program. Photo: Jon Lopez

AUBURN — Dylan Cardwell played with Sharife Cooper on the Nike EYBL circuit last summer. He spent his senior season with the five-star point guard at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia, though he didn't get to play after being ruled ineligible due to his transfer status.

But he'll get another chance at Auburn, where they will be teammates next season.

Cardwell, a three-star center, announced his commitment to the Tigers via social media Thursday afternoon. He chose Bruce Pearl's team over offers from Georgia, UConn, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

He joins a 2020 recruiting class that already features Cooper, four-star power forward commit JT Thor and two three-star signees: power forward Chris Moore and shooting guard Justin Powell. The commitment from Cardwell, who ranks as the No. 25 center and No. 150 overall player nationally, moves Auburn up one spot to No. 8 in the national recruiting rankings, per 247Sports.

That would go down as the best class in program history.

"I’m very excited that I’ll be teaming up with my high school and AAU teammate Sharife Cooper!" Cardwell wrote in a blog post for SI All-American. "He recruited me hard, just saying things like, 'I know your game and you know my game so why wouldn’t you come to a team where you have built-in chemistry.'"

The 6-foot-10 Cardwell is a potentially important addition for the Tigers, who were in need of another big man after losing senior centers Austin Wiley and Anfernee McLemore from a team that finished the regular season 25-6. The only center set to return is three-star 2019 signee Babatunde Akingbola, who also went to McEachern High but did not play as a senior. He totaled two points, four rebounds and five blocked shots in 30 minutes over 13 games as a reserve last season.

Cardwell averaged 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game as a junior at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, before transferring to McEachern.

Here's what Auburn's current depth chart looks like, assuming projected lottery pick Isaac Okoro keeps his name in the NBA Draft (he signed with Lil' Wayne's sports agency last week):

  • PG — Sharife Cooper, Tyrell Jones
  • SG — Devan Cambridge, Jamal Johnson, Justin Powell
  • SF — Allen Flanigan, Javon Franklin
  • PF — Jaylin Williams, JT Thor, Chris Moore
  • C — Babatunde Akingbola, Dylan Cardwell

That's only 12 players, which means that Pearl and his staff still have one more open scholarship. The name everybody will be watching over the next few weeks is that of Jonathan Kuminga. The five-star small forward out of the Congo is ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2021 class but is reportedly "50-50" on whether he'll play out his senior season at The Patrick School in Hillside, New Jersey, or reclassify to the 2020 class.

Auburn is one of Kuminga's top 10 schools, along with Duke, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Texas Tech and Washington.

Josh Vitale is the Auburn beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoshVitale. To reach him by email, click here.