Larry Austin Jr., a 5'-10" freshman point guard at Springfield Lanphier High School, was one of the guests on hand for the Illini Midnight Madness held recently at Huff Gym. Though it's still early, Austin has already gotten a pretty good feel for the Illinois program through an earlier visit to a football game as well as the Midnight Madness event.
"It's been pretty good. I like everything here. It's been pretty nice."
Being a freshman, college is still way off in the distance for him. But it's not something he's put totally out of his mind.
"I really didn't think about college as I was growing up, but I really like Illinois."
Austin has taken notice to the success of the Illini program and believes they have the potential for a great season.
"The program is pretty good. I think they're going to be good this year."
One specific player Austin is impressed by on the team is freshman Jereme Richmond, who Austin has seen play on TV.
"Jereme Richmond is my favorite player here so far. I didn't get a chance to watch him at Waukegan, but I got a chance to watch him in the McDonald's game."
Springfield Lanphier has enjoyed great success in the past in basketball but struggled a bit this last year. Austin, who led his 8th grade team to a state title last year, hopes to rally the team and get it started in the right direction.
"Lanphier didn't get past Regionals, and so my goal is to get through Regionals and keep going on from there as far as we can get."
Lanphier is also the home of recent Illini guard Rich McBride, who Austin occasionally talks to.
"Yeah, I talk to Rich McBride on Facebook sometimes."
Prior to Madness, Austin talked a bit about his expectations for the event.
"I'm expecting a good show. I think Jereme's got the dunk contest. Joe Bertrand's pretty good too though." The latter won the contest.
It's still early, but keep an eye on Larry Austin Jr. over the next couple years.