Ex-Mount Carmel, EIU hoopster Alex Austin looks to join Illini

Ex-Mount Carmel, EIU hoopster Alex Austin looks to join Illini
July 17, 2014, 8:45 pm
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Vinnie Duber

A former member of the Mount Carmel Caravan will look to join the Fighting Illini basketball team.

Alex Austin, the Chicago native who's spent the past two years at Eastern Illinois, has enrolled at Illinois with the goal of walking on with John Groce's Illini team starting in the 2015-16 season, according to the Champaign News-Gazette's Marcus Jackson.

Austin, who played alongside current Illini guard Tracy Abrams at Mount Carmel, averaged seven points per game and 2.4 rebounds per game for the Panthers last season. He was a two-year starter with EIU.

“I just felt like I wanted to go somewhere a little bigger and see what else was out there,” Austin told Jackson. “I enjoyed the two years at Eastern, but I felt like I needed to try something new and it would be better for me to develop as a player and a person.”

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According to Jackson, Austin will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the upcoming season. That means he won't get to again team up with Abrams. He met with Groce and the rest of the Illinois coaches last week.

“(Groce) emphasized to me nothing is guaranteed,” Austin said. “He explained the worst-case scenario I probably won’t play for the next three years, and his biggest concern was coming from EIU where I averaged (23) minutes, he wanted to know if I was mentally prepared to make that transition from playing all the time at a Division-I school and coming into UI having a good attitude and not being a bad teammate and competing every day in practice.”