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Boise State point guard transfer Paris Austin's former coach, Lou Richie, talks about Austin's move to Cal

What does the transfer of Boise State point guard Paris Austin mean for the Oakland native, his alma mater, and Cal's recruiting efforts? We chatted with his high school coach, Lou Richie.

Paris Austin wanted to keep things quiet. He didn't even tell his former high school coach, Lou Richie, that he was coming home until this morning. After an unofficial visit with his parents to Berkeley yesterday, though, it was a done deal: The former Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd point guard was coming home to play for California.

"I actually got a text message from about five coaches last Tuesday, asking me where Paris was going," Richie told BearTerritory, shortly after news broke of Austin's decision. "I called Paris, and he didn't answer. I called his father, and his father was like, 'Lou, we'll call you tonight to inform you of how you're going to be a part of the process,' and I was like, 'Hey, just let me know if you need my help.' I talked to Paris later on that afternoon, and he was like, 'Coach Lou, I would never make a decision without having it well thought out.' Even before I talked to him, I thought, 'Wow, if he was to come back to Cal, right now, that is one of the best collegiate moves, for a kid who came out of Oakland, that I could ever speak of.'" Of course, just two years ago, another of Richie's proteges -- Ivan Rabb -- made the decision to stay home, while Austin, without an offer from the Bears, headed to Boise. The issue for Austin, back then, was academics. He's since dedicated himself to his studies, Richie said, and earned All-Academic honors his freshman year from the Mountain West Conference.

"For a kid from East Oakland, who didn't like school, to get a degree and/or a Master's from Cal? I'm so happy," said Richie.

Austin, who's played two seasons in Boise, will have three years to play two, sitting out this coming season due to transfer rules, but he will have time to complete his degree, and start on his graduate studies.

"He told me, 'Lou, please don't tell anybody,' so I had a couple people reach out to me, and I gave them his information, but I just said I couldn't comment on where he was going," Richie said.

Richie noted that Austin would be the third Cal basketball player -- including Rabb and women's star Asha Thomas -- to come out of Oakland Unified's Montera Middle School, go through O'Dowd, and, once Rabb finds time to complete his degree, graduate from Berkeley.

"That's incredible, incredible," Richie said. "That's the story. Absolutely phenomenal. Three kids from East Oakland will all get degrees from Cal. That's what this is all about."

More germane to Cal's recruiting efforts, though, is how Austin's arrival affects the 2018 point guard recruiting effort. The Bears have offers out to Richmond (Calif.) Salesian's James Akinjo and O'Dowd's Elijah Hardy, among others, and have just signed late 2017 addition Deschon Winston. How does this new scene play out, with regards to Hardy?

"It makes sense," Richie said. "If Elijah [went to Cal], he'd be a freshman during Paris's [redshirt] junior year. It'd be a lot like it was all over again, here at O'Dowd."

When Hardy was a freshman, and Austin a senior, Hardy had to play nearly one third of the season as the starting point when Austin went down with injury. He learned how to be a point guard under Richie -- a former collegiate point guard himself -- and the four-year varsity point Austin, en route to a CIF Open Division title win, which, appropriately enough, took place at Haas Pavilion.

"I'll tell you this: The thing about Paris that makes it so special, I was telling him the other day -- the second-best highlight for me in coaching, the first was inning that state championship, and the second was when Paris texted me a picture of his all-academic conference certificate his freshman year at Boise," Richie said. "That meant more to me than any accolade, because it was such a struggle for him to become the student that he is, now, and that's why I'm so happy for him. The whole Bay Area is his. He goes to school at Cal for three years and gets his Master's, with his charisma, and his intelligence, he'll be able to have any company he wants."

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