Baylor’s Isaiah Austin declares for NBA draft

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Early in his time at Baylor, Isaiah Austin was considered a potential top-10 pick.

And so were Perry Jones and Quincy Miller.

Jones was drafted No. 28 and Miller No. 38 in 2012, and it’s unlikely Austin fares much better in 2014, but he’s giving it a shot.

Baylor team release:

Baylor sophomore center Isaiah Austin will declare for the 2014 NBA Draft and forgo his final two years of collegiate eligibility, head coach Scott Drew announced Tuesday.

“Our coaching staff really enjoyed working with Isaiah for his two years at Baylor University, and we want to thank him for his tremendous contributions to Baylor basketball,” head coach Scott Drew said. “His versatility and defensive prowess helped us win an NIT Championship and make a Sweet 16 appearance. He’s a tremendous player and a great role model in the community, and we look forward to watching him as he takes the next step to the NBA.”

Austin is an athletic 7-foot-1 and 225 pounds and has 3-point range. Players like that never completely fall off the NBA radar.

But he fits the stereotype: athletic Baylor player with quality size who never learns how to use his skills. Jones and Miller not proving the critics wrong in the NBA won’t help Austin’s case, either.

Like those two, Austin too often deferred at Baylor. His numbers last season – 11.2 points on 45 percent shooting and 5.5 rebounds – were both pedestrian for his skill level and down from his freshman year. At least he improved defensively, increasing his blocks from 1.7 to 3.1 per game.

If he’s going to sell himself to NBA teams, it should be as a defender with high offensive upside. Think Paul George (at least that’s what he should want you to think, even if that comparison is on the most optimistic side).

Austin won’t persuade anyone to take him in the top 10 anymore, but he could sneak into the back of the first round with all the right breaks. More likely, someone takes a flier on him in the second round, but it’s also possible he doesn’t get drafted. At this point, Austin has lost his college eligibility, so he can’t return to Baylor.

After losing vision in his right eye as a child, Austin has experience overcoming obstacles. It’s impossible to separate those experiences from his next journey, and maybe that helps him in his professional career. Austin is easy to root for, but for NBA teams, a little harder to draft.