Rowland Hall's Wesley Austin stays connected with his dad, who lives in California, by breaking down film of each of the Winged Lions' games over the phone.
The sophomore takes his dad's advice to heart because he's trying to follow in the senior Austin's footsteps and the son of former Utah Jazz center Ike Austin is ready to seize his spot among the top high school players in the class of 2013.
"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," said Ike Austin, the NBA's 1997 Most Improved Player. "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."
To that end, Ike has embraced his double role as a father and coach. As a dad, Ike's main goal is to guide Wesley through the things Ike went through at the same age.
As a coach, Ike describes himself as a hard-knock perfectionist in the mold of Bobby Knight. Last summer Wesley and Ike got together for a grueling four-week training camp at Ike's home in California.
"I'd wake up at 5:30 in the morning to work on all kinds of drills," said Wesley Austin. "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."
The strategy seems to have paid off.
This season Wesley has upped his averages to about 9 points and 9 rebounds per game. Having turned 16 in January, the 6-foot-5 Austin is expected to add more height and weight to his 205-pound frame. Wesley's size 17 shoes and Ike being 6-foot-10 seem to indicate as much.
Both Wesley and Ike are considered late bloomers in basketball, and Ike sees a lot of himself in Wesley. Conversely, Wesley appreciates his father's work ethic.
"When I was younger, I thought it was cool to have my dad in the NBA," said Wesley Austin. "But now I think I appreciate more how hard he had to work to get to where he got."
This coming offseason will be particularly important for Wesley Austin in his pursuit of a Division I scholarship, as coaches and scouts will be able to directly contact him. In addition to having another grueling monthlong camp, Ike has set up for his son an AAU schedule including the prestigious Adidas 64 circuit, which will match Wesley Austin up with the top players in the nation.
If everything goes as planned, Wesley could follow in both his father's and cousin's footsteps. Isaiah Austin is a 7-foot junior in Texas and is the No. 2 recruit nationally in the Class of 2012 and has already committed to play at Baylor.
Ike father, like son
Wesley Austin, a 6-foot-5 sophomore center at Rowland Hall, is averaging about 9 points and 9 rebounds a game.
Wesley's father, Ike Austin, was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 1991 and played for seven NBA teams in nine seasons, winning the league's 1997 Most Improved Player award.
Father and son break down game film together over the phone after every Rowland Hall game and are planning a busy AAU schedule for Wesley this summer.