WACO, Texas – Freshman center Isaiah Austin will return to the Baylor men's basketball program for his sophomore season, head coach Scott Drew announced Sunday. Austin was a potential first-round pick if he had elected to declare for the 2013 NBA Draft.
Austin's decision comes three days after another member of the Bears' frontcourt, rising senior Cory Jefferson, announced he'll also return for the 2013-14 season. Both Jefferson and Austin were projected to be selected in numerous 2013 NBA mock drafts.
"We're extremely excited to have an opportunity to work with Isaiah for another year," Drew said. "I think it's a compliment to Baylor Nation, the university and the team that Isaiah wants to return, and I know Baylor Nation is really excited to have him back for another year."
"I want to thank my teammates, family and coaches for supporting me in my decision," Austin said. "I couldn't be more excited to say that I will be playing for such a great program again next year."
Austin was named a second-team Freshman All-American by Basketball Times after averaging 13.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 35 games during his debut season at Baylor. eJHe
He was named first-team All-District VII by the USBWA, and he picked up second-team All-Big 12 honors from the league's media.
Austin broke Baylor freshman records with 292 rebounds and 11 double-doubles. He had the second-most blocks (58), field goals made (181) and games started (35) of any freshman in program history, and his 456 points scored ranked third on Baylor's freshman records list. His 292 rebounds were the fifth-most of any Big 12 freshman in the league's 17-year history, and his 58 blocks ranked sixth on the Big 12 freshman list.
A 7-foot-1, 220-pound center, Austin was projected to be the 15th pick in the first round in the latest 2013 mock draft by DraftExpress.com, was tabbed No. 24 in the first round by ESPN's Chad Ford and No. 30 in the first round NBADraft.net.
Austin's decision gives the Bears 10 returning players from last season's 23-win, NIT Champion squad. He's joined by Jefferson, who announced his decision to return for his senior season on Thursday, and Brady Heslip, to give Baylor three returning starters. The Bears also return guards Gary Franklin, Deuce Bello and L.J. Rose, along with forwards Rico Gathers, Taurean Prince, Logan Lowery and Chad Rykhoek.
Baylor finished the 2012-13 season with a 23-14 record and a NIT Championship – the program's first national postseason tournament title in 107 seasons. Austin had 15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks, 4 assists and 2 steals in Baylor's 74-54 win over Iowa in the title game at Madison Square Garden, helping him earn a spot on the NIT All-Tournament Team.
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