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Cameron Smith

NBA dad takes long-distance hands on approach with son's talent

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

To say that Wesley Austin is a chip off the old block is an overstatement. At this point, the Rowland Hall (Utah) High sophomore is 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, but has yet to fully navigate the intricacies of how his growing body moves or channel his raw talent. In a way, the 9 point, 9 rebound-per-game player is trying to develop a high school basketball post presence on the fly.

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Yet Austin has a great mentor to learn from, who just happens to be the person responsible for his size 17 shoes, as well. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Austin's father is former NBA Most Improved Player Ike Austin, who has taken an active approach to helping his son develop his still budding basketball talent.

"Wesley didn't start playing ball until middle school. I wanted to let him figure out if he truly loved the sport without me pushing it on him because I have such a strong passion for basketball," Ike Austin told the Tribune. "I wanted to put 110 percent into making Wesley the best player he could be, but I couldn't do that to him unless he was ready to give 110 percent as well."

After his first season of high school basketball, Wesley Austin was ready to make that commitment, a pledge which led to a long summer of early wake up calls and intense basketball drills at his father's house in California. The sessions bred both improved skills and an appreciation for what his father endured to reach the NBA.

"I'd wake up at 5:30 in the morning to work on all kinds of drills," Wesley Austin told the Tribune. "It was rough, and I wanted to say, 'Hey dad, it's the summer and I want to sleep in.' But I knew what we were doing would make me a better player and I'm glad he pushed me through it.

"When I was younger, I thought it was cool to have my dad in the NBA. But now I think I appreciate more how hard he had to work to get to where he got."

If there was any concern that the work ethic developed over the summer would disappear when he returned to Utah, Ike Austin has ensured his son is just as attuned to improving his game midseason. Father and son break down each of the younger Austin's performances after each game, with the elder Austin watching film of his son's latest performance online, them talking him through corrections as both view the film together. The practice almost serves the role of a personalized online tutorial with the touch of an interactive greeting card.

Because of his relatively late start in basketball, the younger Austin has yet to hit the ballyhooed AAU circuit, a competitive journey he plans to embark on this summer. Yet his lack of competition against top flight talent hardly dim prospects for a player who should grow to be near his father's 6-foot-10 height.

Given the attention focusing on Austin's cousin, 7-foot junior Isaiah Austin, the youngest hopeful hoopster in the Austin clan will have every opportunity to prove he belongs at a respected Division I program, all of which nearly ensures that we'll hear more from the Austin family on the hardwood in the future.

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