Baylor center Isaiah Austin, an Arlington Grace Prep graduate who led the Big 12 in blocked shots last season (119), will enter the 2014 NBA Draft. Austin, a 7-foot-1 sophomore, announced his decision Tuesday.
In two seasons at Baylor, Austin averaged 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. He helped lead the Bears to an NIT championship in 2013, as well as a Sweet 16 berth in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
In a video posted Tuesday on the Scout.com website, Austin said he will enter the draft because “I feel like I am ready and I feel like I have overcome many obstacles in my life. I’m ready to take on a new challenge in my career.”
In January, Austin announced he has been blind in his right eye since suffering a sports-related injury in junior high school. His admission has made him a role model for individuals with vision-related issues, a status Austin embraces.
His vision issues, combined with some inconsistent performances in the early part of last season, cloud Austin’s draft stock with some general managers. Despite his height, Austin is not considered a lock to be a first-round pick. But strong performances in the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA tournament have Austin trending in the right direction with NBA scouts heading into the June draft.
In a statement, Baylor coach Scott Drew said: “Our coaching staff really enjoyed working with Isaiah for his two years at BaylorUniversity, and we want to thank him for his tremendous contributions to Baylor basketball.”
_ Jimmy Burch