NCB On The Trail: Larry Austin

Cofer headlines Tennessee class

November, 15, 2013
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Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin landed four letters of intent on Thursday evening, including ESPN 100 power forward Phil Cofer (Atlanta/Whitewater).

Joining Cofer in Knoxville will be four-star point guard Larry Austin (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier), four-star center C.J. Turman (Madison, Ga./Morgan County) and three-star shooting guard Jordan Cornish (New Orleans/Brother Martin).

"I'm really excited about this signing class," Martin said. "We've signed four great kids who bring a combination of athleticism, skill and toughness to our program. I know all of them are eager to get here and get to work."

Who just missed making ESPN 100 

September, 27, 2013
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Here are 10 prospects that are very talented, tough, competitive and productive but just missed the cut in the ESPN 100 and have the potential to be excellent, immediate contributors at a major college and deserve to be recognized for the their high level of play.

Larry Austin (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier)
2014, PG, 6-1, 161 pounds -- Committed to Tennessee

Center C.J. Turman commits to Vols

August, 18, 2013
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Tennessee landed its fourth recruit from the 2014 class on Sunday when four-star center C.J. Turman (Madison, Ga./Morgan County) committed to the Vols, ESPN.com has confirmed.

Alabama, Georgia, Houston and Miami were among the schools to offer Turman.

Turman joins a class that features ESPN 100 point guard Larry Austin (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier) along with four-star prospects Phil Cofer (Atlanta/Whitewater) and Jordan Cornish (New Orleans/Brother Martin).

Reading through the typical recruiting jargon can be a difficult task, especially for the untrained eye, but suffice it to say that things aren’t always what they seem.

Some of the most misleading statements often include sayings like, "He has offers from," or "He chose school X over," or "He decommitted from," primarily because they consider only one side of the process.

The fact of the matter is that schools choose prospects as much as prospects choose schools, and the former is no less fluid than the latter.

What does that mean? It means that sometimes when a tweet or recruiting article says Player X committed to School Y over offers from Schools A, B, C and D, what it can really mean is that Schools A, B, C and D offered Player X at some point in the past, but are no longer recruiting him, so he decided to commit to School Y.

Now, why would a school suddenly stop recruiting a prospect? Because they suddenly realized he wasn't good enough? Possibly, but more likely it's because they have since received a commitment from, or feel like they are on the verge of a commitment from, someone else at the same position whom they hold in a little higher esteem.

So, with that in mind, we're going to rewind through a particularly busy few weeks in the national point guard market and make an attempt to translate the real story. Whether it was a prospect who made a commitment or cut his list, we'll tell you which schools are in, which are out, the real story behind whose decision it was, and the bottom line for each prospect. Then we'll circle back and tell you which two ESPN 100 point guards are still uncommitted and open to new suitors.

[+] EnlargeTyus Jones
AP Photo/Damen Jackson No. 1 PG Tyus Jones recently reaffirmed his desire to play college hoops with No. 1 overall recruit Jahlil Okafor.
News: Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley) reaffirms his intent to go to school with Jahlil Okafor (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young)
In: Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Ohio State
Out: Minnesota
Real story: Minnesota is still on Jones' list of seven, but the Gophers aren't on Okafor's list. That, in addition to the fact Richard Pitino and his staff could be seen prioritizing other targets this summer, is indication enough that Jones isn't likely to be staying home next season. The latest twist in the story is Okafor's AAU coach, Mike Irvin, going on record saying there is a great chance Duke lands Jones, while Okafor's camp has denied the Blue Devils are the leader for the package deal.
Bottom line: Jones and Okafor do want to go to school together, but they don't yet agree on where. Jones appears pretty set on Duke, but Okafor not quite as much at this point. ESPN 100 SF Justise Winslow (Houston/Saint John's) is also part of the conversation, making this potentially one of the biggest package deals in recent history.


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Without question, the most important position in basketball from a coach’s point of view is the point guard, and the success of any team lies with its floor leader.

During my coaching career, I have had the unbelievable good fortune to recruit and coach many outstanding point guards who played in the NBA (such as Howard Eisley at Boston College), as well as standouts in the college game (such as James “Scoonie” Penn at Boston College and Ohio State and DaShaun Wood at Wright State. Eisley had a 12-year NBA career, Penn was the Big East Rookie of the Year and Big Ten Player of the Year, and Wood was the Horizon League Player of the Year.

Below are 10 keys that are vital to being a great point guard, with a look at which prospects from the Class of 2014 best demonstrate each of those traits.

[+] EnlargeTyus Jones
Chris Williams/Icon SMITyus Jones, the nation's top PG, reminds us of Syracuse's Tyler Ennis for a variety of reasons.

1. Eliminate emotional fogs


Why it’s important: The ability to perform and always have your head in the game is the first part of being a floor general. To do what the coach wants and give the team what it needs all game long takes total concentration, but it’s what separates the good from the great point guards.

Who does it best:
Joel Berry: The UNC-bound floor general is battle-tested and tough-minded with a winning approach. His mentality is to always be dialed in, and he reacts to adversity extremely well. He never allows the previous possession to affect the next play, which is rare at such a young age.

Tyus Jones: The nation’s No. 1-ranked point guard is aware and alert to what’s going on throughout the course of a game and does not get caught up in one-on-one battles when defenders make him a priority. Once his attention to detail on the defensive end increases, watch out.

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ESPN 100 point guard Larry Austin (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier) committed to Tennessee on Thursday over offers from Bradley, DePaul, Iowa, Kansas State, Missouri, SMU and Oklahoma State, among others.

Austin, the No. 68 overall prospect in the ESPN 100, is a great get and a great fit for Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin in what is already an impressive recruiting class that is now ranked No. 7 in the country.

[+] EnlargeLarry Austin
Kelly Kline/Getty ImagesESPN 100 PG Larry Austin was a priority recruit for Tennessee.
Austin is the Vols’ first ESPN 100 prospect in the 2014 class, but Tennessee also has commitments from four-star power forward Phil Cofer (Atlanta/Whitewater) and four-star shooting guard Jordan Cornish (New Orleans/Brother Martin). Cofer will bring rebounding, shot-blocking and finishing at the rim, while Cornish adds shooting. And now they have a lead guard in Austin who can get them the ball.

So why did Austin pick Tennessee and what will he bring to the Vols?

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