Building a strong resume at the high school level with his size, shooting touch, and defensive presence, Austin finished his prep career ranked among the top-5 players in the RSCI. Considered a potential one-and-done prospect when he entered the college ranks, a solid, but inconsistent freshman season didn't solidify his stock, and his decision to return to Baylor was made for him after a torn labrum promised to keep him from participating in much of the pre-draft process. Taking a step back in some key areas as a sophomore, while improving in others, Austin's draft resume reads largely the same as it did a year ago, as he finds himself firmly on the first round bubble.
Austin's intrigue as a prospect has long hinged on his extremely rare physical attributes. Measuring 7'1 with a 7'3 wingspan at age 16 in 2010, the Texas native has outstanding size for a center at any level to go along with impressive mobility. In contrast, he weighed in at just 200 pounds when those measurements were taken, and while he was listed at 225 this season and has gotten noticeably stronger in his upper body in recent seasons, he remains extremely skinny for a big man at the professional level.
As of right now, Austin's offensive game largely revolves around the small and occasional flashes he shows, as he's not a particularly efficient or reliable at this point in time, but shows intriguing potential in a number of areas.
After averaging 16.7 points per-40 minutes pace adjusted on 45.9% from the field a year ago, he averaged 16.4 on 44.3% as a sophomore, and didn't make significant strides on this end of the floor. Possessing soft touch inside and the ability to score away from the rim, Austin has a unique offensive skill set for a 7-footer, but struggles at times to finish plays around the basket due to his lack of explosiveness and toughness, and forces some difficult, awkward shots from the inside and outside alike—part of the reason he was the least efficient center among all prospects in the DraftExpress Top-100 rankings.
Inside, he'll show deft touch and a high release point on hook shots with either hand at times, but lacks to lower body strength to establish good post position consistently. While he isn't what you'd describe as a freakish athlete, he's mobile and smooth enough to put the ball on the floor a bit from the midrange, and will even knock down a pull-up jump shot from time to time. Shooting a very solid 45% with his back to the basket according to Synergy Sports Technology, Austin has a promising finesse game on the block, but converting at a 53% clip around the rim, he doesn't deal with contact well and tends to take some difficult, off balance shots from the paint.
Away from the rim, Austin's unique skill level gives him interesting potential as a pick-and-pop option. Almost a quarter or his shots in the half court last season were jump shots, off which he made just 32%. Though his consistency leaves something to be desired, he shoots the ball with solid mechanics from the perimeter and seems to have the potential to draw opposing big men away from the rim at the next level, which could become an important part of his offensive profile at the next level.
Defensively, Austin did make some strides this season, ranking in the top-15 nationally in blocks per-40 minutes pace adjusted and swatting away more than twice as many shots per-40 minutes pace adjusted than he did as a freshman. His length, mobility and timing have always made him a presence defensively, but he made a more concerted effort to challenge would be scorers inside this season. His improved activity level as a weakside defender came at the expense of his defensive rebounding numbers, which dipped from an average 7.8 per-40 minutes pace adjusted to a very poor 5.1, tied for the lowest mark among centers in our top-100.
Austin's length is a plus defensively, but his strength limits his impact on the glass and ability to defend one-on-one. He isn't quick to pursue the ball off the rim, but he shows the mobility necessary to step away from the rim and hold his own from time to time.
Austin put together a very nice NCAA Tournament performance, and while the lack of discernable improvement this season has certainly hurt his perception among scouts, he remains a rare and intriguing talent with his size, skill level, and shot blocking ability, even after revealing that he's blind in one eye. He'll need to improve his efficiency offensively and get significantly stronger to put himself in better position to contribute at the next level in the coming seasons, but will draw interest in the first round and could fit well on a roster that has the luxury of being patient with his long-term development in the next two to three years.
We've taken a more visual look at his strengths and weaknesses thanks to game film from Baylor in the following video scouting report, courtesy of Mike Schmitz.
All of our video scouting reports this season can be found here.