Cedar Springs high's Austin Thornton is a two-sport star that is making a name for himself on both the gridiron and the hardwood. In the fall he's the starting quarterback of the varsity football team and in the winter he's the starting point guard on the basketball team. He also teamed with David Kool and K'len Morris on the Michigan Mustangs during the AAU season. At 6-4 175 lbs. he's an excellent athlete and has already caught the eye of college coaches in his young career.
GBW caught up with Cedar Springs Coach Andy Secor earlier this week and he discussed both Austin's game and his upcoming Michigan visit.
How did Austin's season go last year?
"Last year on our varsity he averaged just over nine points per game, seven rebounds, and five assists. We started four seniors and he started as a freshman as our point guard. That team went 20-0. He had a lot of heat and pressure on him from a lot of people, but he had a fantastic year."
For people that haven't seen him play, how would you describe his game?
"The big thing is how versatile he is. He's a kid that's still growing and I wouldn't be surprised if he eventually gets 6-6 or 6-7 based on some of the people in his family. He played point guard for us. He is athletic enough to go down and defend on the block. We didn't need him to score a ton of points. We had a kid that went to Ferris State on a full ride and a kid that went to Muskegon community, so his role wasn't really that of a scorer. But he could just fill out the stat sheet in terms of blocking shots and passing the ball. So his versatility is probably the greatest aspect of his game."
It sounds like more of the scoring load will be put on his shoulders this year.
"The weight of the world is going to be on his shoulders, so to speak (laughing). We'll be really young. We'll be starting three sophomores and maybe even a freshman. This summer he really took a big time leadership role with our team. He kind of knows our history. We've won five districts in six years. We won our first conference title in a while last year. He really wants that tradition to continue."
What would you say is his strong suit as an offensive player? What doee he need to improve on?
"Last year we called him Rip Hamilton because 15 to 17 feet he was money. That was his spot. A lot of times at point guard he'd get some good mismatches against smaller 5-9/5-10 kid. We can put him down on the block and he can score against them, or with his mid-range game he can pull up and shoot over them. What he's really working on now is extending his range. He was in the gym 6:30 in the morning working on it. He spent the AAU season and the offseason working on his three-point shooting. He's going to surprise people with that this year."
"In terms of his individual game his range and his off the ball defense are what he needs to improve the most. He is such a good shot blocker and such a good rebounder, but I know that during the AAU season he worked hard on becoming a better off the ball defender along with his range. For our team and our program this year the big thing that he is going to have to work on is carrying the team. In his role last year is was okay for him to only get nine or ten points in a game, but this year we aren't going to win a lot of games if he does that."
What schools have contacted you about him?
"The schools I've heard from the most about him so far are Michigan, Purdue. He'll actually be heading to Michigan this weekend for the football game and the Maize and Blue scrimmage afterwards."
GBW will have more on Austin in the coming months.