Bruce Pearl held a media session on Wednesday to recap the season for Auburn, and the SEC as a whole.

Pearl spoke to the strides Auburn made this season, and said the recognition that Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler got at the national level this year was previously unreachable at Auburn. As for Kessler, his decision for next season was not easy.

“I think it was hard for Walker, because he was really torn between coming back and going in the draft,” Pearl said. “But he’s a projected late first-round pick right now… He’s put himself in a good spot.”

As for Smith, Pearl said he will go into the NBA as “the best jump-shooting big in college basketball in the last 10 years.”

Pearl also became the latest coach to defend the SEC after the league had a disappointing showing in the NCAA Tournament after it entered March Madness in as strong a position it’s been in, in recent memory.

“I’m going to dispel the rumor that the SEC was overrated throughout the season,” Pearl said. “That’s not right. It’s wrong.”

As for Auburn, Pearl admitted that the Tigers may have peaked at the wrong time, and said, “I think because we had such a challenging non-conference schedule, this team better get better in a hurry and it did.”

In terms of next season, Pearl said Auburn needs to improve its perimeter shooting.

“I expect Jaylin Williams to have a dominant role next year. He’s ready,” Pearl said, and added that the biggest need with available roster spots is finding a complement in the frontcourt. “We’ve actually passed on some pretty good players” that they just felt didn’t fit that need.

H/T Justin Ferguson and Tom Green.