By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Even though his mom and dad were both basketball stars at Auburn, Austin Wiley's love of the game was slow to develop.
"Years and years ago, Austin was not interested in basketball when most kids his age - 5, 6, 7 - started to become interested in it," says Vickie Orr, Austin's mother. "He just didn't take a liking to it right away.
"Once he got into the sport, there was no turning back."
As Austin grew in size, to 6-foot-11, he also grew in skill, becoming one of the nation's elite prospects.
"I saw an increase in his dedication like I had never seen in anything he had ever done before," Vickie says. "Just the idea of him following in his dad's and my footsteps means the world to me. I feel more pressure, more than he does probably, just to live up to the legacy that everyone is speaking about."
That legacy is vast. Orr was an All-American and 1992 Olympic bronze medalist. Austin's father, Aubrey Wiley, led the SEC in rebounding in 1993-94.
When the recruiting process intensified, Austin needed to look no further than the kitchen table.
"I'm blessed to have parents who went through it," Austin says. "They told me they wanted me to go to Auburn, but if they felt like Auburn wasn't the best place for me, they wouldn't force me to go there. I feel like it was the best place."
"Vickie and I gave him advice, but Austin made his decision that he would be an Auburn Tiger," Aubrey says. "That's a proud day and it's a good feeling that your son wanted to follow in his mom and dad's footsteps."
"We didn't want him to go to Auburn just because we went," Vickie says. "It had to be a good fit for him. And with Bruce Pearl and Chuck Person and the other staff in place, getting to know them and really feeling like part of the family with Auburn really sealed the deal for him."
Austin signed with Auburn in November, following through on a verbal commitment he made fourteen months earlier.
"It was like a big weight being lifted off my shoulders," Austin says. "I'm proud. Made my family proud. Everybody at Auburn's proud and all my friends are proud. Blessed. Big weight off my shoulders."
For Austin, carrying on the family tradition of basketball brilliance was only part of Auburn's appeal.
"The family atmosphere," he says. "All of the people down there. The academics. I just love the way Bruce Pearl and Chuck and all of the coaching staff, how they carry themselves. They won't push you more than you're willing to be pushed. They expect greatness and hard work."
Perhaps it's no surprise that the son of two Auburn basketball legends uses words straight out of the Auburn Creed when describing his game. Work. Hard work.
"A hard-working big man who runs the floor," Austin says. "Plays his heart out on defense, rebounds, blocks shots, scores inside, shoots a little bit. The whole package. Hard-working, and I'll do whatever it takes to win."
Austin's father, Aubrey, the women's basketball coach at Lawson State Community College, agrees with his son's self-assessment.
"He can rebound the basketball well. He can score in the low post. And he can block shots well," Aubrey says. "That's what Auburn's going to need, somebody who can rebound the basketball, score inside and run the floor well. He's going to do big things at Auburn. I'm very proud of him as a father."
As proud as Aubrey and Vickie are of Austin's ability, they're more concerned with his character.
"As his mom, I'm just proud of him," Vickie says. "He's an incredible person. He's handled the pressure well. He doesn't seem to be fazed by it all. I'm just really excited for him for the next level."
"Austin is a very mature young man," Aubrey says. "He's humble. He just loves the game of basketball. I'm a proud father, because he never gave me any problems. Never gave me any trouble. He always listens. He has a high character. He just loves people and he just loves being around people. That's what makes me so happy. How he respects people. He's so humble and he keeps God first."
Austin, who plans to study nutrition at Auburn, says he's a "people person" who has already developed friendships with fellow signees Chuma Okeke and Davion Mitchell.
"We're all on the same mission. We're close now, but I feel we're going to be closer as time progresses," Austin says. "I'm ready to be an Auburn Tiger. Just can't wait to get there."
Wiley's arrival will take place sooner than his fellow November signees. Auburn coach Bruce Pearl announced Friday that Wiley graduated from high school early and will debut Sunday against Mercer.
"We look forward to having Austin be a part of and play for the Auburn Tigers just as his parents did," Pearl said.
"It feels great," Austin said. "I feel really blessed right now. My hard work and dedication has paid off. Thanks to my parents and the coaches. I feel great. I grew up around here listening to stories my mom and dad would tell me about the Auburn Family. This is a blessing, and it seems like everything works out for the best. It feels like destiny."
-- Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) November 10, 2016
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer