KNOXVILLE – Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin will now have some options at point guard when he puts together his 2014-15 lineup.
Four-star PG Larry Austin pledged to the Vols on Thursday afternoon over an impressive offer list that includes Illinois, Memphis, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Wake Forest.
The 6-1, 165-pounder from Springfield, Ill., will join 2013 incoming freshman Darius Thompson as point-guard-of-the-future options for Martin after senior Antonio Barton, a transfer from Memphis who is scheduled to enroll in August, departs following the 2013-14 campaign.
“Austin is a tough-minded point guard that can run the team, get others involved and make plays off the dribble,” ESPN.com wrote in a scouting report. “He is athletic and can finish in the lane, hit the mid-range pull up and has improved his three ball. Austin has all the tools to be a special player with continued improvement. Great upside.”
Though not blessed with exceptional size or athleticism, Austin seems to be the type of point guard Martin likes – tough, defensive-minded, gets to the rim and sets up his teammates. He’s got plenty of pure talent as well – three of the top four recruiting services rank him as one of the top-100 players in his class.
Austin becomes the third commitment in Tennessee’s 2013-14 signing class, joining forward Philip Cofer and wing Jordan Cornish. The Vols will lose four scholarship seniors after next year – Barton, forward Jeronne Maymon, guard Jordan McRae, wing D’Montre Edwards. In addition, junior forward Jarnell Stokes is an NBA early-entrant candidate.
That means Martin could be look to add two or three more players in this class to supplement Cofer, Cornish and Austin.
How the major recruiting sites rank Austin:
Rivals.com: 4-star; 96th best player in the nation
ESPN.com: 4-star; 68th best player in the nation
Scout.com: 3-star; 27th best point guard in the nation
247Sports: 4-star; 95th best player in the nation
247Sports Composite: 4-star; 100th best player in the nation
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga