Vanderbilt transfer brings past experience to men's basketball

Larry Austin Jr. did not plan to end his career with Central Michigan men's basketball.

The class of 2014 guard was a three-star prospect in high school, according to the 247Sports Composite. He was ranked No. 7 overall in the Illinois with offers from Providence, Tennessee, Bradley, DePaul and Xavier.

Austin committed to Tennessee in high school, then pulled out after the head coach left. He ended up at Xavier. 

“I felt the pressure of everyone picking schools to commit to at the time, so I went with what I felt was the best from what I saw (at Xavier),” Austin said. 

From 2014-16, Austin was a role player. He averaged about a point per game. 

Because of a lack of playing time, he started to seek other schools.

Austin is from the same hometown as former CMU assistant coach Kevin Gamble — Springfield, Illinois.

“The first time I wasn’t as active with (CMU), I felt there was a really good opportunity for me at Vandy,” Austin said. 

Following a redshirt season in 2016-17, Austin saw action in 23 games in the next season. He averaged 11 minutes per game while averaging 2.5 points, one assist and 1.4 rebounds per game.

The 6-foot-2, 182-pounder earned his undergraduate degree and decided to move schools once again. Austin didn't waste any time to accept CMU's offer. 

“I didn’t think I would end up here when I committed to Vandy but it was just something that popped up and I’m glad it did,” Austin said.

During his time with Xavier, Austin's team was ranked No. 2 in the nation. In 2015, he was apart of a team who reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. The following season they made it to the Round of 32. At Vanderbilt, the trips to March Madness continued. 

Austin's seen college basketball at the highest level. That's what he wants to bring to CMU. 

“I learned a lot from the guys at Vanderbilt and Xavier, guys who led on and off the court,” Austin said. “I learned what was expected in big games like the NCAA Tournament."

Head coach Keno Davis couldn't pass up on Austin's experience. 

“He’s a competitor each and every day,” Davis said. “He doesn’t just go to practice, he wants to win practice. He realizes this is his last opportunity to go out there and believes this team can be something special."

With the addition of Austin, CMU's offense will go back to a two-point-guard set. 

Davis is known for running an up-tempo brand of offense that relies heavily on the 3-point shot. Players who can handle the ball are key to that system.

“Two is better than one when it comes to having leaders on the court and I think we’ve proved this can work,” Davis said.

Senior guard Shawn Roundtree is a native of Edwardsville, IL which is only an hour from Springfield. Austin and Roundtree played against each other a lot but never formally met. When they did over this past summer, things instantly clicked.

“We’re both on the same page on and off the floor which helps with our chemistry,” Roundtree said. “There still is a way to go with learning each others tendencies on the floor, but it’s coming along well.” 

Austin said he talks with Roundtree every day because they know this team will run through them. Game planning and finding ways to win are apart of what Austin wants to bring to the Chippewas for 2018-19.

His journey has been full of unpredictable turns but now in his final season with CMU, he knows where is college career will end. Now, it’s about what he can accomplish with a final chance.

“If we win games everything will fall into place for everyone, not just myself,” Austin said. “I’m focused on right now and I’m ready to help make a difference for this team.”