While the 2013-14 Penn men’s basketball season hasn’t started yet, Jerome Allen and his staff are already busy bringing in new players for 2014-15.
On Monday, the Quakers picked up their first commitment for their upcoming recruiting class in Mike Auger, a forward from New Hampton (N.H.).
We spoke with Auger to discuss why he chose Penn, his relationship with the men’s hoops coaching staff and his role on the basketball court.
Daily Pennsylvanian: First off, you were down to four schools – Penn, Princeton, Dartmouth and Holy Cross. Why did you choose Penn over the other three?
Mike Auger: Just from being on campus, I got a good feel from the coaching staff and campus. It seemed like the right fit for me. It is great that it is right in Philly. I love the city. The coaching staff is awesome. And I want to go into business and the school of business there is a great opportunity. It wasn’t a hard decision for me since Penn really stood out for me.
DP: Were there any factors with the other three schools that made them a step below Penn in your recruiting process?
MA: For Holy Cross, it was the fact that the other three were Ivy League schools. And growing up in New Hampshire, I wanted to get out of the state a little bit. But more than anything, Penn stood out to me and it wasn’t the other schools being lower or anything.
DP: How big of a factor was the Wharton School inyour recruitment and what stood out about Wharton compared to other schools?
MA: It definitely wasn’t the biggest factor. Just another positive. I just want to major in business and going to Penn for business is one of the best opportunities in the world. It definitely wasn’t the biggest factor though.
DP: What is your relationship with the coaching staff, both as a whole and with each individual coach?
MA: I hadn’t really had too much contact with anyone other than coach [Scott Pera] over there. I have been talking to coach Pera for a while since probably the beginning of the summer. I have a pretty good relationship with him and being on campus, the whole staff spent the day with me, including coach [Jerome Allen].
Coach Allen had reached out to me a few times and expressed interest in me. I got a really good feel for the coaching staff. I think coach Allen really cares about his guys and I’ve heard that from a couple of other people as well. I’m definitely the closest with coach Pera but I have a great feeling for all the coaches.
DP: When did Penn offer you and what kind of things do you talk about with coach Pera?
MA: They offered me at the end of July right after I got home from Las Vegas [for an AAU tournament]. And with coach Pera, we talked a bit about Philly and what Penn has to offer me. He has always just reached out to me and seen how I’m doing, how my body is feeling and everything. I get the feeling that [the coaching staff] really cares about their guys.
DP: What kind of role would you play for the Penn basketball team based off your conversations with the coaches?
MA: I think my role from the start would potentially be to be a [small forward]. They love my toughness and my rebounding, and they think that I can bring that to the table. I think my role can evolve over the years into more of a skilled role and more of an offensive role as I progress with my game.
DP: How would you describe yourself as a player in terms of your abilities, strengths and weaknesses? At 6’7, do you play more small forward or power forward in high school?
MA: I guess I am more of a stretch four. We have a couple guys who are definitely bigger than me – I am 6’7, 220 [pounds] – but I like to think that I’m tougher than all the guys I play against so that is a benefit to me. I can just crash the boards and get a lot of rebounds.
Toughness is what most coaches love about me but I definitely think that I can guard multiple positions and knock down a three. I think the big thing is my athleticism and toughness and rebounding and stuff like that.
DP: Have you had any interaction with players on the current Penn squad?
MA: A little bit. Some of them have reached out to me since committing and when I took my unofficial visit, one of the guys walked around with us and asked to call me. I am probably taking an official visit at the end of the month so I’ll spend a weekend with them, which should be good.
To read the full the interview, go to The Buzz, where Auger talks the details of his unofficial visit to Penn in August and his goals for his senior year of high school.
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