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Baylor’s Isaiah Austin declares for NBA draft

Apr 23, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

Traevon Jackson, Isaiah Austin Traevon Jackson, Isaiah Austin

Early in his time at Baylor, Isaiah Austin was considered a potential top-10 pick.

And so were Perry Jones and Quincy Miller.

Jones was drafted No. 28 and Miller No. 38 in 2012, and it’s unlikely Austin fares much better in 2014, but he’s giving it a shot.

Baylor team release:

Baylor sophomore center Isaiah Austin will declare for the 2014 NBA Draft and forgo his final two years of collegiate eligibility, head coach Scott Drew announced Tuesday.

“Our coaching staff really enjoyed working with Isaiah for his two years at Baylor University, and we want to thank him for his tremendous contributions to Baylor basketball,” head coach Scott Drew said. “His versatility and defensive prowess helped us win an NIT Championship and make a Sweet 16 appearance. He’s a tremendous player and a great role model in the community, and we look forward to watching him as he takes the next step to the NBA.”

Austin is an athletic 7-foot-1 and 225 pounds and has 3-point range. Players like that never completely fall off the NBA radar.

But he fits the stereotype: athletic Baylor player with quality size who never learns how to use his skills. Jones and Miller not proving the critics wrong in the NBA won’t help Austin’s case, either.

Like those two, Austin too often deferred at Baylor. His numbers last season – 11.2 points on 45 percent shooting and 5.5 rebounds – were both pedestrian for his skill level and down from his freshman year. At least he improved defensively, increasing his blocks from 1.7 to 3.1 per game.

If he’s going to sell himself to NBA teams, it should be as a defender with high offensive upside. Think Paul George (at least that’s what he should want you to think, even if that comparison is on the most optimistic side).

Austin won’t persuade anyone to take him in the top 10 anymore, but he could sneak into the back of the first round with all the right breaks. More likely, someone takes a flier on him in the second round, but it’s also possible he doesn’t get drafted. At this point, Austin has lost his college eligibility, so he can’t return to Baylor.

After losing vision in his right eye as a child, Austin has experience overcoming obstacles. It’s impossible to separate those experiences from his next journey, and maybe that helps him in his professional career. Austin is easy to root for, but for NBA teams, a little harder to draft.

  1. bougin89 - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Shut one eye and then think about playing basketball at a division one level while never being able to open that eye. It’s pretty incredible what he’s been able to do.

    • spursareold - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      The hilarious thing is that even with vision only in one eye, he’s a better FT shooter than Dwight Howard. He actually improved 5 percentage points this year.

  2. spursareold - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Oh, I think he’ll be drafted. He’s a legit 7 footer, w/o shoes, measured at a 2010 camp, and he has a jumper out to 18 feet and shot blocking ability. He won’t be a star, but could carve out a nice 8-10 year career as a rotation big.

  3. rajbais - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Often “defers”
    = late 1st rd Pick.

  4. cruzan80 - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Possible Tyson Chandler 2.0 at best…..

    • spursareold - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      I was thinking Ibaka 2.0. A legit shotblocker with a jumper, and not much else.

      • cruzan80 - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        I won’t argue that…either way…considering his vision issues….shout out to him for even getting this far.

    • kb2408 - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      More like Brad Sellers 2.0. You remember him, right? 7 ft bust from Ohio St, loved to shoot jumpers, skinny and pretty much useless if he wasn’t making shots, which happened to be most of the time. I think he got a ring though in Chicago as MJ’s punching bag.

      • spursareold - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:05 PM

        Sellers was a bust because he was picked #9 overall. He also wasn’t a shot blocker. He also played 7 NBA seasons.

        I’m not even sure it is possible to be a “bust” where Austin is likely to be picked. Most late first rounders don’t make it. Very few second rounders ever do.

      • kb2408 - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        All vaid points, sir.

  5. andyreidisfat - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Looks like a good pick for one of the 75 picks the sixers have in the second round

    • rrhoe - Apr 23, 2014 at 3:02 PM

      Nice…..

    • spursareold - Apr 23, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      Philly will have some open roster spots. Bringing in 4-5 hungry second rounders HAS to be better than the sewage they put on the floor most of this past season.

  6. iammr713 - Apr 23, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    Upside = Anthony Davis w/ better Offensive skills..

    Downside = Byron Mullens

  7. ravenswhat - Apr 23, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    Lol at Anthony Davis upside comparison. If he had a twin and you combine their stats, sure maybe.

  8. bhunter1995 - Apr 23, 2014 at 7:03 PM

    At best he could end up being a Spencer Hawes 2.0 with a better defensive presence around the rim.

    • campcouch - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:34 PM

      Spencer Hawes is nice!

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