Background: Austin Parkinson is a sophomore point guard for Northwestern HS
in the state of Indiana. He is rumored to be a recruiting prospect for the
Purdue Men's Basketball program.
My perspective: I'm not a native of Indiana- so the high school BB bug doesn't
affect me like most Hoosiers. I view HS basketball, in the most part, to be
quite similar to a soap opera. Poorly executed, full of mistakes, drawn-out,
and very predictable over a year's time. When I watch a player in HS
Basketball, I'm only interested in what they could bring to a college
basketball program. Not just his/her athletic and basketball abilities, but
intelligence, desire, attitude and all the other intangibles I think are
desirable in a college basketball player.
I saw Austin Parkinson play with his Northwestern team at Oak Hill High
School. Northwestern is one of the top-ranked teams in the state. Oak Hill is
not so highly ranked, but they have a 6-9 player, Jarrad Odle, who is one of
the state's scoring leaders. Odle is a senior and is already committed to
Quick note on Odle for Big Ten fans: I wasn't all that impressed with him. In
Indiana jargon, I do think he's a better offensive threat than Robbie Eggers,
Richard Mandeville, Jadlow, or Haris Mujezenovc (sp?) was. But his defense
needs some work if he's going to successfully defend against the Big Ten
centers. I also believe a lot of his scoring is going to disappear as he is
confronted with the taller and more athletic competetion of Big Ten play. His
rebounding skills may really help Indiana out next season, but I would expect
red-shirt freshman center Kirk Haston to play next season before Odle in the
rotation. In Purdue jargon, Odle is two tons better than Matt ten Dam. More
like a stronger, faster Kip Jones, though Odle's enthusiasm may not match
Kip's. Because of Indiana's departure of big, strong men coming into next
season- Odle may find himself dealing with the same problem Purdue's Brandon
Brantley did during his stay in West Lafayette- being forced to play the
center position when he's better suited to playing power forward.
Observations on Austin Parkinson: I had the game on tape so fortunately I
could rewind. You see, Northwestern doesn't have anybody on their team over
6-5, and almost everybody is 6-2 or 6-3- so it looks like a five-guard offense
out there to my college-BB eyes. I didn't know Parkinson's jersey number, and
I just assumed he was this red-haired guy playing aggressive defense. And I
was not impressed by that guy's play. Matt Painter was better in high school.
Then the play announcer pointed Austin out to me and I dropped my jaw. He was
the point guard, a player I automatically assumed was a senior because no HS
sophomore should have the right to move and pass the ball that smoothly. My
interest was aroused, to say the least.
The most impressive thing about Austin to me was his ball-handling and
passing. He had two turnovers in the game. One was a stolen pass by Odle in
the full-court. Not a terrible pass, but not a smart one to try against a 6-9
guy. The other was a travel going on a drive. But he had 8 assists (or darn
close to that) and a slew of crisp passes. He knew where he wanted to pass and
he rarely looked there when he passed. Very good accuracy. Uncanny for a HS
sophomore. Scary, actually.
Next on the list was leadership. He played point all the time he was out there
and he played almost the entire game. When his team got pressed or got into
dribble trouble- they looked for him. And Austin found a way to bail them out.
Austin looked to get his teammates to score first and thought about scoring
himself second. Toward the end of the game (Northwestern won), Oak Hill tried
to force Austin to turnover the ball with two-man pressure. They did this four
times in about a minute. Austin passed over the double-team once, cut between
the defenders once, bounce dribbled to a teammate once, and got fouled once.
He did all this methodically- under control and not scrambling.
I'm going to start using some Purdue names for comparison now (fair warning).
I guess his defense was next on my list. Northwestern played an aggressive
man-to-man defense the whole game and pressed often (sound like any teams a
Purdue fan might know?). Austin deflected some passes and got some steals, but
he always badgered his man down the court. He's not lightning quick like Herb
Dove was, and isn't franticly diving for balls like Todd Foster or Brian
Cardinal. His defense is intense but controlled, like Jaraan Cornell's- or
dare I say Chad Austin's (not yet I don't). Parkinson doesn't let his man get
ahead of him and just sticks close waiting for the steal or deflection.
Next on the list would have to be his shooting. He's got a nice shot, though I
didn't see too much of it in this game. I'm told he has great scoring nights-
when the opportunities arise. And I know he can hit the three- no problem.
He's got a nice release in shooting from the field and the line.
If this game is an average performance for Austin (and I don't know if it is
or not), then I would say the following ...
Right now, as a sophomore in High School, Austin Parkinson impresses me as
much as Todd Foster of Purdue did during his junior and senior years of
college. Austin can play good defense, not turnover the ball, and can nail the
open three. Foster showed more enthusiasm (hustle) on the floor, but Austin is
faster and has a cool-headed demeanor in the game that reminds me of Jaraan
Cornell and IU's Calbert Chaney.
I see in Austin a lot of the same qualities I like in Purdue's Tony Mayfield
(after first month of season). He doesn't make many mistakes, has good shot
selection and great FG%, looks to pass first, and plays good defense. Austin's
style of play looks like it is exactly what Keady wants in a point guard.
If Parkinson continues to develop over the next two seasons, I wouldn't be
surprised if he's not a Mr. Indiana Basketball candidate and one of the top
point guards in the country (for his class).
Reservations? Well, I didn't see much of an offensive game, but that doesn't
mean he doesn't have one. He can shoot the ball well in a lot of different
ways (that's good) but I don't know how well he scores on his own. His team
fed him with the ball almost as well as he feeds them. It's a team that passes
very well and makes everybody look very good on offense. And of course their
fast break gives them a lot of open jump shots and easy baskets.
Other than that I don't really have big reservations about this player. He's
smart, a great shooter, a great ball-handler and defender and his passing
skills are insane. As far as point guards go, I really don't have any other
That's my take on it.
Purdue fans should automatically love him. His last name is Parkinson. His
first name is Austin. Come on ... the only better names Purdue fans could come
up with would be Glenn Wooden and Joe Barry Scheffler.
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