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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO Guest_Columnist'S COLUMNS

PURDUE MENS BASKETBALL RECRUITING:
Scouting report - Oak Hill vs. Northwestern




Date: 2/03/98
Author: Rufus Talladega
Rufus Talladega

    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 Indiana University.

    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 expectations.

    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.

    Later,

    Rufus

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