It should go without saying that if a player is good enough to be projected as a first-round NBA Draft pick but has decided that he is returning to school, he is going to dramatically help his team’s chances of being a national juggernaut the following season. That is exactly what is going to happen for the Baylor Bears as Isaiah Austin has decided to return to school for at least one more season.
Most have experts projected the 7-foot-1 center to go anywhere from the middle to the late first-round of the draft. Combining his size with a lot of raw talent did make him an intriguing prospect, one who could have climbed even higher up folks’ mock draft boards had he done swell in pre-draft workouts. Nevertheless, Austin chose to go back to college to improve his stock rather than declaring early entry for the NBA.
Make no mistake — Austin helps Baylor become a near-mortal lock for the NCAA Tournament as well as Big 12 glory by coming back to school. Even if he were to only marginally improve, having a 7-foot-1 man-beast would naturally make any team a formidable foe. Austin, however, is not merely just some player with size, but a guy who has the ability to change the outcome of games.
There is almost no way that Austin’s draft stock could fall past the first-round for next year’s draft. He is not going to shrink and seven-footers don’t grown on trees, so teams will take a flyer out on him next season no matter what kind of potential they see left in him.
With the Bears likely to be thrust into a bigger spotlight next season — thanks to being more competitive and in bigger games — Austin can turn himself into a lottery pick or better. Big men have always been known to take longer to develop. If Austin wants to do so against lesser competition while showing an improved skill-set, well, he does have the potential to dominate the college ranks next season.
If not, then he is still a behemoth worth taking in the first-round. Potential injuries aside, Austin returning to school is a good move for him and even better news for Baylor.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone