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Player Preview: Larry Austin Jr.

Coach Mack moved late to bring in another guard after Justin Martin opened up a scholarship. Now that we've had some time to get a look at Larry Austin, Jr. fitting into the roster, here's our take on what to expect from him this year.

Larry Austin Jr. comes to the team to fill the hole left by the departure of Justin Martin.
Larry Austin Jr. comes to the team to fill the hole left by the departure of Justin Martin.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As a quick reminder, if you are looking for any of the previous player previews, a look at a non-conference opponent, or anything pertaining to the upcoming season, the Season Preview 2014 main page can be accessed by clicking the link at the top of this page, or be chosen under the sections tab on the site header.

Xavier was briefly at the scholarship limit after the end of the season, but Justin Martin opened one up by transferring to Southern Methodist University. With a scholarship to play with - and apparently unsatisfied with the guard depth afforded him by Dee Davis, Remy Abell, Myles Davis, Edmond Sumner, and JP Macura - Coach Mack moved quickly to sign former Tennessee commit Larry Austin, Jr.

A 6'2", 174-pound point guard out of Illinois, Austin was unanimous Class 3A First Team All-State selection as a senior, posting a game line of 22.2/7.5/4.0 with 4.2 steals per game and a 38% mark from behind the arc. He is known for his toughness and work ethic as well as being a vocal leader on and off the court. He is athletic and can run a team in transition and in the half-court, and he is a tough on-ball defender. He is a strong finisher and indeed above the rim, and the work that he has put in on his mid-range and three-point jump shots is starting to pay dividends. Austin, Jr has all the tools to develop into a pretty special player.

Best case scenario:

Dee Davis 2.0. With leadership, intensity, tough defense, and a developing shot, Austin ticks many of the same boxes Dee did as a freshman. Additionally, he's also two or three inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than Davis was when he first set foot on campus. Austin led the team in assists and steals in Brazil and only turned the ball over 6 times in 4 games. He proves to be a capable backup for Dee, keeping miles of the senior's chassis while preparing for a smooth transition as the team's facilitator and defensive talisman next year.

Worst case scenario:

The level of play in Brazil was a mirage, and Austin has trouble with the step up to the college game. With his jump shot still rough, his defenders sag off of him and he is not able to get into the paint to distribute or finish. His defense is solid, but Xavier's guard depth leaves him closer to the end of the bench as the rotation shortens for conference play.

Most likely scenario:

As long as the bucket-getters are getting buckets, there should be a place for Austin on the floor early on. As his primary appeal is game management rather than one superlative skill and Coach Mack has an absurd number of talented guards to choose from, I would suspect this season will be more about learning and less about playing for Larry. I'd say he'll end up getting 5-10 minutes per game, be tasked primarily with spelling Dee Davis, and do enough to establish himself as the heir apparent for Dee's role, if not all of his minutes.