Friars hope to add top guard to 2014 class
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
It's been no secret that Providence College wants to add another point guard for the upcoming 2014-15 season and the opportunity to land one could be just days away. After falling short on the Devonte Graham sweepstakes (Graham committed to Kansas), Ed Cooley and the rest of the PC coaching staff are set to welcome Lanphier High School's Larry Austin this weekend.
Austin, a 6-foot-1 point guard out of Illinois, was granted his release from Tennessee following Cuonzo Martin's decision to take his services to the University of California in mid-April. In reopening his recruitment, Austin has heard from more than thirty schools according to his head coach, Blake Turner. Fortunately for Cooley, Providence has surfaced as one of three schools that Austin has decided to visit.
This past weekend, Austin was on the campus of Xavier University and he will be traveling to Providence this weekend. Turner also believes that he plans on visiting California-Berkeley at a later date.
In terms of where the Friars currently stand with Austin, Turner reported Tuesday that his star guard has heard from Ed Cooley a lot. "He really likes him. He thinks that he is a good coach and he likes what they did last year as well as the recruiting class that they have coming in. So he's excited for this visit."
Turner also pointed out the friendship between Austin and fellow 2014 class member Jalen Lindsey. "I'm not sure how much they've talked but Jalen has definitely been talking Larry," he said. Lindsey and Austin's friendship dates back to when the two first met in 8th grade, at various AAU camps - a relationship that has apparently held strong to this day.
During Austin's final season at Lanphier he led his team to the best start in school history at 25-0 and finished his senior year averaging 23 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. It's quite the stat line for a player who saw his national notoriety drop in the past year or so. At one time, Austin was ranked in the top 30 by national recruiting websites but he has since seen his stock fall and he currently sits outside of the Top 100 in ESPN's national recruiting rankings.
"Larry's junior year was sort of up and down," Turner explaned. "There was a coaching change and he was really worried about which school he would be going to, as well as what people were saying about him. I thought that really affected his game because he wasn't playing loose and free and his numbers showed it. Once he committed to Tennessee, he wasn't worried about that stuff anymore, and he wound up having a stellar senior year.
"He was First Team All-State on every ballot."
Austin's commitment to Tennessee wasn't the only thing that helped propel him in his last year as a high school player, however. Having played on several USA basketball teams, including the 2011 U-16 team that went on to win the gold medal, that experience has helped him become the player that he is today. Players to note on that gold medal-winning roster include Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon and Jahlil Okafor.
"It was a tremendous experience for him. He really played well over there," said Turner. "He was the starting point guard and that was when he really solidified himself as one of the better guards in the country, especially from a defensive perspective." In the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship, Austin averaged 7.2 points and 4.4 assists a game.
Overall, Austin sounds like he would be a great find for Cooley, especially with so few guards left on the board. Turner also shared a little bit about what type of person Austin is outside of basketball. "Larry is a leader on and off the court," Turner said. "He is very active in his church, and he serves as one of the youth beacons there. He is a member of the National Honor Society and was named Academic All-Conference."
Austin may have slipped outside of the highly political "Top 100" rankings but his head coach is confident that he can succeed at the next level. He doesn't believe that Austin will drag the recruiting process on for much longer - which could be a good sign for PC heading into the weekend.
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