7 things you should know about Isaiah AustinDec. 18, 2012
Head coach Scott Drew's starting five features four upperclassmen and one freshman. The new face in the lineup belongs to one of the top signees in Baylor men's basketball history, making this a good time to share...
7 things you should know about Isaiah Austin
By Jeff Brown, BA '00
- He's one of the highest-ranked signees in Drew's 10 years at Baylor and a top NBA prospect. Austin was named the No. 3 recruit in the nation last year by ESPN and Scout.com, and he was named the Big 12's top NBA prospect by Lindy's and Yahoo! before ever playing a game in college. ESPN, CBSSports.com and DraftExpress.com each project him as a top-10 pick next June, if he chooses to leave Baylor early.
- Despite his size, he can play inside or out. At 7-foot-1, Austin towers over most opponents. He has the height to play underneath the basket as a true center, but also the touch to make 3-pointers from the wing. "Coach Drew tells me to shoot it whenever I'm open," says Austin, and through the Bears' first eight games, he had more 3s than anyone else on the team except Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip.
- He's always had a ball in his hands. Austin says he attended his first basketball camp at age 3, by which time he was already dribbling the ball between his legs. A Fisher Price hoop in the backyard got a heavy workout from the young Austin.
- If you see him and think "Kevin Garnett," you're not alone. Austin says he always liked the longtime NBA star growing up, and the two have quite a bit in common with their lanky frames and adept outside shots. Austin has also drawn comparisons to former No. 1 overall draft picks Anthony Davis and Greg Oden.
- He's not afraid to talk about his faith. It was one of the things that drew Austin to Grace Preparatory Academy in Arlington, Texas, and then to Baylor. "I prayed on it, and this is where He led me," says Austin. "Me and my family, we thank Him for our blessings each and every day, and as a family every night before we go to sleep. Without God, I wouldn't be where I am today."
- The goggles. Like former Baylor All-American Brian Skinner, Austin wears goggles on the court -- though not in place of glasses or contacts, but as a safety measure. He says he often got poked in the eyes when he was younger -- "I just have bad luck for it," he explains -- so he started wearing the goggles as a precaution.
- If you see a 7-foot-1 guy ahead of you on the links, it might be Austin. His dad taught him to play golf a few summers ago, and Austin says his game is now "pretty good." Is it tough to keep his mechanics in order with such a long torso and swing? "Not really," he says. "I've got custom clubs and everything."