Dec. 19, 2016
By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - For Austin Wiley, the nervousness subsided as his first Auburn basketball game progressed. His mom and dad, both former Tiger hoop stars, weren't so lucky.
"I was more nervous than he was, I think, as a father," said Aubrey Wiley, sighing significantly in the moments after Auburn's last-second win over Mercer Sunday. "I'm just glad he had a good game. He played well and we came out with a victory."
"Naturally, I'm more nervous as a parent watching than I ever was as a player," said Vickie Orr, Austin's mother. "It's because I have no control. But it felt really good just to sit here and watch him, trying to stay in the background and let him do his thing."
Staying in the background isn't always easy when you're used to standing out.
Orr, a former All-American and Olympic medalist, and Aubrey, the SEC's leading rebounder in 1993-94, watched their son's debut from the concourse at Auburn Arena, Vickie frequently engaging fans who stopped to chat and introduce their grandchildren to an Auburn legend.
"That's big," Aubrey said. "That's so special that your son followed his mom and dad's footsteps. That's a special moment for me."
Austin, a member of Auburn's 2017 recruiting class, graduated high school early in Florida, allowing him to enroll at Auburn for the spring semester.
"Like (Coach) Bruce (Pearl) said, he worked his tail off to speed things up," Orr said. "He's given up a lot, leaving Spain Park and going to Florida. And now, he's finally here. It's taken a lot of dedication. He's just an amazing kid and I'm really proud of him."
Two days after joining the team, Wiley scored nine points and had three rebounds in Auburn's 76-74 win. His tie-breaking basket in the final minute provided Auburn's penultimate points before TJ Dunans' buzzer-beater.
"That last bucket. That was big for him," Aubrey said. "He got some key blocks and key rebounds."
"He was nervous, which is understandable," said Vickie. "I'm just really proud of him. It's a great start."
Other than Dunans' game-winner, Sunday's loudest cheers came when Wiley, the highest-rated signee in Auburn basketball history, checked in for the first time.
"It meant a lot," Austin said. "I got kind of emotional out there, but I can't think about that as the game is going. I just had to keep my game-face, but it meant a lot."
Like his mother, Austin wears No. 50.
"It's always been his number," Vickie said. "As a young kid, his coaches gave him the idea of wearing his mom's jersey. It's kind of stuck with him. He's kind of adopted the idea of wearing mom's number and wearing it proudly, so I'm really proud of him."
Aubrey, who wore No. 41 for Auburn, supported his son's jersey choice.
"He's been wearing No. 50 his whole career. That's fine. It's no big deal. I'm glad. That's a big thing, to support your mom. Her jersey number is retired, but that's very big. I have no problem with that. It's all in the family," said Aubrey, exchanging his sigh for a laugh.
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer