South Florida and Cincinnati won't meet on the hardwood until Jan. 20, 2010, but there's already a major battle shaping up between the Bulls and Bearcats for the signing of big man Waverly Austin. The highly regarded post player has narrowed his choices to the Big East rivals and he said a decision will be coming within two weeks.
Austin has scheduled an official visit for Tampa this weekend and will travel to UC the following week before announcing his commitment. At this point, it appears the Bulls have a lot of factors in their favor.
The 6-foot-11, 245 pounder, although a native of the Washington, D.C. area, has strong Florida ties. His mother lives in Jacksonville and Austin once attended Lee High School there. Austin said his mom was very impressed with USF when the two made an unofficial campus visit in August.
"She didn't think much of it before we went down there, but when we got to campus and she met the coaches and saw the facilities, she was really impressed. She told me, ‘You should really take a serious look at this,' " Austin said. "She hasn't had much chance to watch me play the past couple years, so I think she likes (USF)."
Austin, who is now at Heat Academy in Martinsville, Va., also has ties to current Bull Augustus Gilchrist and Video and Conditioning Assistant Coach Terrelle Woody. Gilchrist and Austin have spent time training together in the past and they talk regularly.
"We are pretty close and he likes it at USF. One thing I've really noticed is they must have a good strength and conditioning program there because (Gilchrist) has gotten so much better and stronger," Austin said.
USF's interest in the big man peaked this summer and he received an offer from Stan Heath after the coach saw him perform at a prospect camp in Las Vegas. On his summer visit to campus, Austin met most of the current team members, hung out and played some pickup games. He sees an opportunity for early playing time with the Bulls and a return to a much friendlier climate.
"It's 80 degrees there in December, so that's a lot different weather from the D.C. area," he said. "Coach Heath is a real good coach and he knows how to get good players – guys like the transfer from Ohio State (Anthony Crater), Gus, Dominique Jones and Jarrid Famous.
"The competition is amazing – it's the best conference in America and they get a lot of exposure in the spotlight with all the games on TV. I think (the Bulls) have a lot of potential. I watched them beat Marquette last year and that's how good they can be. I think they're going to be real good this year."
Austin describes himself as a versatile performer and said his biggest asset is his passing ability.
"I'm good at finding the open guy and passing in the post. And I can get out on the fast break and take it full court," he said. "I can score around the basket and I can shoot it pretty good out to 15 feet."
Stick with USFNation.com for more on Austin's recruitment and his pending decision.
Bulls, Bearcats Battle for Big Man Austin
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