Isaiah Austin is really tall and ready to shoot jumpers for Baylor

How many 7-foot-1 centers will not only be allowed but also encouraged to shoot 3-pointers this season?

Is the answer one?

The answer might really be just one.

His name is Isaiah Austin. He plays for Baylor.

"And he's one of the best shooters on our team," Baylor coach Scott Drew told me by phone after I asked over and over again whether the freshman from Arlington really projected as somebody who could successfully play away from the basket at the high-major level. Drew swore Austin does and that he will be used that way. He also explained why.

"I mean, he just really knows how to play," Drew said. "Some bigs can bring the ball up the court, but they don't know how to play in the halfcourt. They run over the help or just turn it over. But he can actually make plays. One of the first times I saw him a few years he ago, he was playing the point."

Which is not to suggest Pierre Jackson's job is on the line.

It's not.

Jackson will start at the point.

Austin will start down low in the paint.

But don't be surprised or alarmed when Drew's third McDonald's All-American in the past seven years drifts and launches from 22 feet early in a Big 12 game. When that happens, Austin won't be playing the role of a young guy who needs to be reined in. He'll merely be doing what he's equipped to do -- not to mention what his coach wants.

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Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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