Austin Projected As Number Two Rebounder By Sports Illustrated


Sports Illustrated has been posting some great content recently previewing the college basketball season including an some interesting stat projections. In October they released a great piece projecting the top players points, rebounds, and assists. It’s a great read in large part because of how impressively dominant the WCC is on the lists. In fact the WCC has the top player in two of those categories and the number two player in the other.

We’ve looked at Tyler Haws leading the projected scorers and Chris Anderson leading the projected assist men, so now we will take a look at Nate Austin who is projected to be the second leading rebounder. Sports Illustrated projects him to have 9.1 rebounds per game, just short of the 9.2 they have for first.

Before we even look at the rankings, let’s take a moment to reflect on how amazing the WCC could be this year. The SI projections only simulated three major categories: points, assists, and rebounds. And of those categories, a WCC player is projected to lead the nation in two with Austin coming just o.1 rebounds per game from making it a clean WCC sweep in all three stat categories. The level of talent in the conference is just spectacular, and it might be one of the best mid-major conference this season.

Last year, Austin finished third in the WCC with 7.9 rebounds per game. Conference leader Ryan Nicholas has graduated, and second place Kyle Collinsworth is probably not going to replicate the impressive 8.1 rebounds per game he put up with his focusing needing to be on scoring. That leaves Austin as arguably the best returning rebounder in the WCC, and there’s reason to believe his numbers will increase significantly.

Feb 8, 2014; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars forward Nate Austin (33) shoots the ball while San Francisco Dons forward Cole Dickerson (25) goes for the block during the second half at Marriott Center. Brigham Young Cougars won the game 68-63.Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Austin is the anchor of this team as the only major big man on the roster at this point. Eric Mika left for his Mormon mission trip, and transfer Jamal Aytes will miss most if not all of the season due to his recent ankle surgery. That leaves Austin as the only frontcourt players on the Cougars with significant college game experience.

On the surface this might seem bad for his stats. With no support around him, teams can key on him to limit his scoring. But in regards to rebounding, it opens up an opportunity. The vast majority of rebounds the Cougars get will go through Austin, and he has the talent to carry them there. With him carrying the bulk of the load, he should see some impressive numbers even if his other stats suffer.

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Austin was already a defense-first player leading the team in blocks as well as putting up the impressive rebound numbers while only averaging 3.8 points per game last season. That trend should continue, although they will be hoping for more offensive production from him due to the lack of frontcourt depth. But the bottom line is Austin knows how to rebound, and he’s gonna keep doing it a very high level. The SI projections got it right.

The WCC also boasts three other players among SI’s top 20 projected rebounders. Brad Waldow of Saint Mary’s comes in at 12th with 8.5 rebounds per game, Gonzaga freshman Domantas Sabonis is 16th with 8.1 per game, and Stacy Davis of Pepperdine is 18th at 7.9 per game. Waldow and Davis finished in the top six in the WCC in rebounds last year, and Sabonis proved his ability as a rebounder playing against top competition in Spain.

With Thomas Van der Mars and Przemek Karnowski also in line for big seasons, the WCC has a lot of great big men and should do very well in rebounds.