March 19, 2012
AUBURN - Center Willy Kouassi and forward Bernard Morena will transfer from Auburn, head coach Tony Barbee announced on Monday.
Kouassi, 6-foot-10, 219, played in 25 games this season and averaged 1.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 10.2 minutes per game while shooting 48.5 percent from the floor. Morena, 6-foot-8, 190, was sidelined the entire season as he battled injuries.
"Obviously, I am disappointed that they decided to leave Auburn, but I have always said in this business, it is not about me or this program, it is about these players and what is best for them," said Barbee.
"They will both be missed because they bring a lot to the program, not just on the floor, but in every aspect of it as students and as athletes. But sometimes things don't fit, and I am disappointed that they felt that this wasn't the right fit for them.
"The last two years, there have been over 400 players in Div. I basketball who have transferred. The majority of the time is because it is not a fit one way or the other or from both sides. That is what we have here.
"They are great people, have great character, are great students and they are going to be fantastic basketball players in time if they continue to work and grow. We wish them nothing but the best of luck in wherever they wish to go in all of their future endeavors."
Kouassi came on strong in the final three games of the season as he averaged 5.3 rebounds in 16.0 minutes. He had four points, five rebounds and three blocks at Alabama and four points and a season-high tying seven boards vs. LSU while playing 17 minutes in each game. He had four rebounds in 16 minutes vs. Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament.
He had a season-high seven points, four rebounds and three blocks vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff and had five blocks and seven boards vs. Nicholls State.
The Abidjan, Ivory Coast, natives both attended Birmingham's Central Park Christian Academy prior to coming to Auburn.