Arlington Grace Prep center Isaiah Austin isn't having a typical high school summer. He's not lounging around the house or hanging out by the pool.
Instead, the 7-foot-1 Austin is up by 6 a.m. most days working out and making his all-around game more versatile. He knows there's room for improvement, even if recruiting websites have him ranked as high as the No. 2 high school player in the country for the 2012 class.
It's that type of work ethic that has Grace Prep coach Ray Forsett thinking about all the possibilities for Austin's senior season.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he averages a triple-double next year," Forsett said. "He's got a great work ethic for a 17-year-old. He doesn't mind waking up early, and working out for three or four hours. He's just pushing as hard as he can, because he hasn't reached his ceiling yet."
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Forsett's prediction might not be that far-fetched. As a junior, Austin averaged 14 points, nine rebounds and six blocks a game in leading Grace Prep to a TAPPS Class 4A state title. His presence in the paint forced teams to alter their inside shots or settle for ill-advised perimeter shots.
Austin, who is committed to Baylor, has continued to develop a low-post game this summer with his AAU team, Texas Pro, specifically working with his back to the basket and on his hook shot. He already has a nice inside-outside game, and handles the ball well for a big man.
"Just trying to play more with my back to the basket because my critics say I like to face-up too much," Austin said. "And I've worked on getting stronger. I'm actually taking more blows and finishing. I used to get hit and not finish, but now I'm taking the hits pretty well."
That drive to become better has impressed his AAU coach, Marland Lowe, too. Lowe has worked with some of the top players in the country, and says Austin ranks among the best because of his unique style and size.
"He's with the top two or three," Lowe said. "And the one thing people don't realize is he's got a great basketball IQ and feel for the game. Along with the talents he brings, he also understands how to make everyone around him look and play better. So he's got the talent and the mental side of the game."
Austin has spent a good portion of the summer in the area, but has been on the road of late showcasing his talents. A week ago, he was in Milwaukee for the NY2LA Sports Summer Jam and he's now in Las Vegas for the Adidas Super 64.
Austin was also selected for the ESPN RISE Games AAU Boys Basketball Super Showcase beginning today in Disney World. But he wasn't able to go because of the Las Vegas tournament.
While Austin has enjoyed traveling the country and playing in different tournaments, he is ready for his senior season. The summer leagues are more for fun, compared to the high school season.
Austin has a different goal in mind other than averaging a triple-double.
"This year, I definitely want us to repeat as state champs and try to go undefeated," he said.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760