Larry Austin Reflects on His Summers with USA Basketball
Jan. 10, 2013
A member of the 2011-12 USA Basketball Developmental National Team, Larry Austin was a starter on the 2011 USA U16 National Team that captured the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. He averaged 7.2 points a game and ranked third among all tournament participants in assists with 4.4 dishes per outing. So, imagine the disappointment when on June 17 Austin found out he wasn’t among the 12 players selected to represent USA Basketball at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship. However, he was called upon later in the summer to participate in the 2012 USA 3x3 U18 National Tournament and his team ran away with the gold medal and a slot on the 2012 USA 3x3 U18 World Championship Team.
Austin traveled to Spain, where he and his teammates posted an 8-2 mark and finished with the silver medal after a heart-breaking overtime loss to Serbia in the gold medal game.
USA Basketball.com recently caught up with Lanphier High Schoolís 2012 Associated Press Illinois Class 3A All-State honorable mention to find out what he learned about his two years playing for USA Basketball and what kind of knowledge he can impart to the young athletes who will be striving to make the 2013 USA Basketball Menís U16 National Team later this year.
You’ve played two summers for USA Basketball on both the 3x3 U18 World Championship Team and the U16 National team, both of which will take place again next summer. What kind of advice do you have for the kids who will be coming out for the U16 team next summer?
Just to work hard everyday in practice, listen to the coaching staff and wanting to play with pride wearing the USA jersey, wanting to play on a USA team, wanting to win and bring home the gold.
How important is it to set aside egos in order to help the team?
It’s very important because you have one goal and one goal only. You have to set aside your ego and buy into whatever the coach is trying to do, because you’re trying to win a gold medal. You want to come back home with the gold medal for your country.
Looking back at your 3x3 experience, what did you learn from the 3x3 play that has helped you this season?
Playing in a 3x3 setting helped a lot. It’s more physical. The speed is different. The pace of the game is different, the competition Ö it’s more physical because it’s more one-on-one and you’re only playing for 10 minutes. You can’t take a play off.
You would still be eligible, age-wise, for the 3x3 U18 World Championship next summer. Would you think about coming back out for that?
Oh yeah, no doubt. We came up short this year by one point, but I’d love to have another shot at it next year.
What would you tell someone about the 3x3 game that you wished someone had explained to you?
Rondaé (Hollis-Jefferson) played the year before, so he really told us about everything. It was a lot more physical than I thought it was going to be. He told us it would be physical, but it was even more physical than I thought it was going to be.
FIBA is hoping that 3x3 eventually becomes an Olympic sport. What are your thoughts on that?
I think it’s going to be a great sport because it’ll give us another chance for a gold medal. I think it’s a great sport. I really liked it. It was fun, the competition level is high and playing against other countries is always good.
How much did you learn from coach Don Showalter over the past few years?
Coach Show taught me a lot. He taught me how to stay humble, stay hungry and how to get out of our comfort zone. He taught me how to be a team player both on and off the court, and be a leader on and off the court.
Looking back at your travels to Mexico and Spain with USA Basketball, what are some of your fondest memories?
Just being with the guys. Being with the USA guys is a great experience. Everybody was fun to be around. You don’t have any egos or anything. Everybody’s friends. We just joked around and had fun.
Have you kept in touch with your teammates from both of those teams?
Yeah, I talk to a lot of them. Me and Jahlil (Okafor), we’re very close. We talk everyday. We Snapchat, we do everything.
Did you make friends with any of the players from the other (international) teams?
We made friends with some of the guys in 3x3. We made friends with everybody, everybody was on our side. They all wanted us to win. Even though they lost, they still wanted us to win, but we just fell short.
How much did it help you as a player to compete alongside some of the top athletes in the nation these past couple of years?
I think it helped me a lot, I learned a lot from those players. I’ve always been the youngest player on the team, so as I kept going and going I learned a lot from those older players and what they do on and off the court. I learn some of their moves and stuff like how to handle pressure.
Do you have any final thoughts on your first two summers with USA Basketball?
It’s a great experience to put on a USA jersey. It’s a great honor.