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Antoine Mason, the nation's leading returning scorer, picks Auburn

NCAA Basketball: Niagara at Pennsylvania
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Nov 26, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Niagara Purple Eagles guard Antoine Mason (14) during the second half against the Pennsylvania Quakers at the Palestra. Penn defeated Niagara 85-66. (Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Auburn was largely bereft of returning talent when Bruce Pearl arrived two months ago, so the best-case scenario for the Tigers appeared to be recruiting well enough to contend in a couple years.

Perhaps that was selling Pearl short.

Having already added high-scoring Marshall transfer Kareem Canty and former New Mexico State guard K.C. Ross-Miller, Pearl struck again Wednesday when he snagged a commitment from perhaps the most coveted transfer left on the market. Former Niagara guard Antoine Mason, the nation's second-leading scorer last season, announced Wednesday he has chosen the Tigers over Providence and Boston College.

"It's Official I Will Be Wearing Orange and Blue #14 at Auburn University #WarEagles #blessed #chiponmyshoulder," Mason tweeted. "It was a close decision I would like to thank every school who had interest in me."

The addition of Mason is an especially big score for Auburn because the son of former NBA power forward Anthony Mason has graduated from Niagara and is eligible to play his final season immediately. He'll provide Auburn the scoring punch it will need to perhaps ascend a rung or two in the SEC standings as soon as next season.

The younger Mason averaged an eye-popping 25.6 points per game as a junior, second only to national player of the year Doug McDermott of Creighton. He had to do virtually everything for a woeful Niagara team that went 7-26 last season and finished last in the MAAC, shooting a respectable 44 percent despite being the only player on his team to average double figures.

Even with Mason in the fold and Ross-Miller and a couple of other late signees also eligible, Auburn is not in the class of Kentucky and Florida and probably won't even finish in the upper half of the SEC.

Still, the Tigers won't be a doormat next season and Pearl's early recruiting victories suggest bigger success will soon be on the way.

For more Auburn news, visit AuburnSports.com.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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