Senior Writer

Versatile big man Austin is the center of attention


Seven-footer Isaiah Austin is a matchup nightmare. (Photo by Alik McIntosh)  
Seven-footer Isaiah Austin is a matchup nightmare. (Photo by Alik McIntosh)    
Isaiah Austin
Height: 7'0"
Weight: 200 lbs.
High School: Grace Prep (Tex.)
AAU team: Texas Pro
Position: PF
Comparison: LaMarcus Aldridge

Why he's No. 1: Matchup nightmare due to his size and skill set; is an outstanding inside-outside option offensively.

Why he's not No. 1: Prefers to play on the perimeter as opposed to utilizing his size down low. Also needs to add weight.

What kind of pro: If he combines his face-up game with post skills, he has the potential to be a lottery pick and coveted prospect.

Recruiting: Committed to Baylor in August 2010

Ray Forsett cut a deal with Isaiah Austin a long while ago.

There's nothing in writing.

But there is absolutely an understanding.

"I just tell him that if he gives me six or seven blocks, I'll give him the freedom to bring it down and do what he does [on the offensive end]," said Forsett, Austin's coach at Grace Prep in Texas. "I let him mix it up."

It's Austin's ability to "mix it up" -- i.e., score at the rim, from the elbow and perimeter -- that makes him the No. 3 prospect in the Class of 2012, according to He's a 7-foot center already committed to Baylor who is on track to be the third lottery pick to roll through Scott Drew's program provided Perry Jones, next year, follows the lead set by Ekpe Udoh in 2010.

More on Recruiting

"That shows that Coach Drew loves to put big men in the league," Austin told by phone. "Coach Drew is not the kind of coach who is just going to make his bigs sit on the post. He lets Perry handle the ball. He let Ekpe do his thing. That had a big effect on my commitment."

A commitment that came last August.

Austin is the Class of 2012's only top-four prospect who is already committed, meaning he'll enter the July evaluation period without the stress of college coaches and fan bases working him nonstop via phone, email and social media. To him, that's a good thing, which is refreshing given how too many elite prospects in this era drag out their recruitments long after they know where they're going because they're starved for attention. Some kids love the recruiting process more than they love the actual game because, to them, there's nothing better than stringing five coaching staffs and five fan bases along, putting five hats on a table and then grabbing one to make a symbolic (and, at this point, lame) announcement. But Austin isn't one of those kids. He made up his mind last August and told the nation last August. And with that, just like that, it was done.

"I wanted to get it done early because I just felt like the pressure from all the recruiting was getting to me," Austin said. "I just felt like, at that time, I just needed to get it done. I had a great talk with my parents about it. Then I just decided that I was going to go ahead and commit to Baylor."

And now Austin has decided to commit to trying to replace Andre Drummond as the Class of 2012's top center. The plan is to spend July dazzling analysts with a unique skill set that allows Austin to score in a variety of ways and prevent opponents from scoring by sending shots into bleachers. He'll start the evaluation period with a tournament in his home state of Texas and finish the summer in Las Vegas at the Adidas Super 64. Where he'll finish in the rankings, who knows? But, either way, Austin knows he's got something to prove, and he intends on proving it one event at a time.

"I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder," Austin said. "I want to show people I'm not all talk. I want to show people I can go out there and play."

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.

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