Any serious Baylor Basketball fan has heard the name Isaiah Austin. The third, and perhaps best, in Scott Drew's annual episode of Super Elite Blue Chip Prospect, 7'0" Forward/Center Austin represents a type of prospect that Baylor has not been able to reel in before. As a legitimate big man with solid skills across the board, Austin is almost certainly assured of being a lottery pick in the 2013 draft, assuming he stays healthy and develops even marginally.
However, it may be that we have to readjust our previous expectations regarding how high Austin could be picked according to noted NBA Draft Guru Chad Ford. In his most recent column, Ford talks about the 2013 Draft Class and how the elite prospects have fared in the various summer camps. It appears that some of the shine has worn off of Uberprospect, Kentucky Wildcat, and likely #1 pick Nerlens Noel.
Noel showed up at the adidas Nations camp last weekend and, by virtually every account, was a major disappointment. While longtime high school gurus knew that Noel was incredibly raw, NBA scouts got a pretty big taste of just how raw he was. Offensively, Noel struggled to do anything other than dunk the ball. Defensively he showed why he was a terrific shot-blocker, but did little else to impress.
As for the Most Interesting Man in Baylor Basketball? Well, you'll have to make the jump to find out...
For those unfamiliar with the incoming freshman, Austin pairs his massive height and wingspan with a thin frame, especially in the bottom half, which is probably the most frequently cited critique and why he isn't currently a top 5 pick. For example, here's a snippet of a profile written by Paul Biancard:
Austin is an intriguing prospect because he is a true 7-footer with a rare combination of ball skills and great mobility. However, his game right now is only a snap shot of what he can become. Offensively, he possesses a versatile skill set because he can make plays on the perimeter...but his lower body is still quite thin and he has trouble holding his ground. Austin must learn that the lower he plays, the more effective he will be.
If Austin spent the next year solely in the gym adding weight to his frame, he could probably land in the lottery based on his previous skills display and more ideal body type for a big man. Given his age and Baylor's strength and conditioning program, I think he'll be able to put on some weight. However, there is the potential for Austin to achieve even more over the next year. If Nerlens Noel goes the way of UConn center Andre Drummond, for whom questions about work ethic and basketball skills caused a slight drop in the draft, then the door opens for Austin to potentially ascend all the way to the Number 1 Overall pick.
One year ago, Anthony Davis' performance at the summer camps convinced every scout in attendance that he was the best player present, foreshadowing his year as one of the best players in College Basketball. This year? Well...
While Noel disappointed, most NBA scouts came away with a lot of positive things to say about Austin. He didn't necessarily put up huge numbers all week, but Austin's skill set and size really intrigued scouts.
"I think he's a better prospect than Perry Jones III or Quincy Miller," one NBA scout said. "I wish he was 25 pounds heavier and I wish Baylor had guards that would get him the ball, but I do think he's got a chance to be the best freshman in his class."
Happy thoughts, my friend. Happy thoughts.