Austin Wallace anticipates future

The University of Pittsburgh basketball program currently has one legitimate center on their roster. Massive Aaron Gray has emerged as one of the top big men in the Big East Conference. It appears he will have a very capable backup on the roster next season when Austin Wallace comes to Pittsburgh.

The University of Pittsburgh received a verbal commitment from center prospect Austin Wallace (6 foot 9 inches, 235 pounds) from La Salle Academy in New York, NY late last year. He was initially labeled a sleeper by a slew of recruiting publications. Austin proved he was a legitimate blue-chip big man after the completion of a strong season.

"Our team went to the semi-finals and lost to Cardinal Hayes High School. The loss was tough to deal with because we beat them by 22 points in their own house earlier in the season," said Wallace. "I averaged 19.6 points, 17.3 rebounds and 3 blocked shots per game this season. My blocked shots were down because I took so many charges playing defense. I think I took something like 2 to 3 charges per game."

Austin was recently selected to the Michael Jordan Regional All-Star game. The event will be held at Madison Square Garden in New York City on April 22nd. "It's a true honor being selected. I can't wait to play against and with a great group of players," he said. Wallace is a member of the "City Team" and he will be grouped with Villanova recruits Malcolm Grant and Antonio Pena, St. John's recruits Rob Thomas and Justin Burrell and Providence recruit Brian McKenzie.

When asked about the Panthers' season, he stated, "I'm really proud of them. I was at every game at the Big East tournament." "I remember looking in pre-season magazines and wondering why my team wasn't in the Top 25. It's great to see they proved the experts wrong and remained in the top 25 for almost the entire season"

"I'm not trying to say anything bad about the Panther players, but Coach (Jamie) Dixon has a great formula. He doesn't land McDonald's All-Americans, but he finds talented and tough players that are willing to make sacrifices. Most of the players stick around for three to four years and they improve every year they are there."

Wallace set the record for blocked shots at the Big Apple Challenge early last year. He registered 13 total rejections. Austin chose the Panthers over Georgetown, Florida Atlantic, Purdue, Marquette and Fordham. Wallace, a mature and articulate young man, is an outstanding student that will have little problems qualifying academically. He has already scored over 1200 on his SAT.

Wallace is highly excited about joining the Panthers next season. He's well aware that the Panthers only significant loss will be Carl Krauser. "I know the Panthers are deep and they don't lose any big men. I'm willing to come in and pay my dues," he said.

"I hope to model my game after Aaron Gray and Levon Kendall. I'm going to do my best to learn from them next year. They are great players. Hopefully I can contribute next year and provide quality minutes when I'm in the game."

Austin has one goal in mind during the off season: grow, grow and grow. "The Big East is a really rugged conference. I have already hit the gym and I've starting lifting weights. I want to add size to my legs, chest and arms. Hopefully I can get to Pitt and weigh between 240 to 250 pounds."

Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at harrypsaros@msn.com


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