If you haven’t heard of Isaiah Austin yet, you will.
Only a junior at Grace Prep Academy in Arlington, Texas, Austin has already caught the eye of NBA scouts. Put it this way: If he was able to declare for the NBA Draft today, Jay Bilas would die due to excessive amounts of excitement.
Stuart Scott: “Jay, tell us a little about Mr. Isaiah Austin.
Jay Bilas: “Stuart, NBA scouts are drooling over this kid. He’s seven feet tall, can run the floor, handle the ball, hit a jump shot, and has a 7-4 wingspan. 7-foot-4, Stuart! The kid has unlimited potential and he’s still growing.”
Isaiah does have an incredible skill set and loads of potential, but before we start talking about the NBA, the kid has to go to college. And lucky for us, his decision’s already been made. About a month ago, Austin announced that he’ll be taking his talents to Waco and join the Baylor Bears.
But for the sake of us NBA fans, lets talk future. According to former Duke point guard and current ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Williams, Austin would have been the first pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Of course, he’s only a junior in high school and won’t be eligible for three more years, but a junior in high school already being considered a lock for the No. 1 spot? That’s just scary.
As a legitimate 7-footer with ball handling skills and three-point range, he deserves to be discussed. Yes, it may be a little early to gift wrap the No. 1 pick and hand it to Austin (especially considering we’ve already done that), but it’s not too often that you see someone with these skills at this age. Most high school 7-footers can barley walk and chew gum at the same time.
One attribute that makes Austin so special is his natural feel for the game. In other words, Austin isn’t one of those kids who forces things. He lets the game come to him. He has great touch and works extremely well from the high post. His height and jump shot make him a nightmare at that spot on the floor. Along with his ball skills, Austin runs the floor well making him especially dangerous in the open court.
Because of his athleticism, Austin is able to beat defenders down the floor for easy baskets. He finishes well at the rim, but also takes pride in protecting it. Having said that, he does need to get stronger and fill out his frame. At 7-0, 200 pounds is a bit thin, but he is only 17. The biggest concern for Austin however is his ability to play with his back to the basket. Too often does he find himself on the perimeter, like Dirk Nowitzki, trying to take a smaller defender of the dribble rather than using his superior height to score over the top. And others have noticed that as well.
“As a fellow 7-footer, Austin is primarily a face-up player with high level ball skills like Nowitzki,” writes Jerry Meyer, the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Austin will likely never be the pure shooter that Nowitzki is, but it looks like Austin will be a high level shooter. On the plus side for Austin, he is a better shot blocker than Nowitzki.”
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