As of April, Austin Conway was fairly certain that football would be the sport he’d eventually play in college and possibly beyond.
Granted, he’s 15 and that’s just a tad early to determine whether or not a young man has a future in such a brutal sport, but he has genetics on his side. His father Earl was high school quarterback before becoming a star defensive tackle at Division II Mississippi College and spent short stints with both the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL. His older brother also played the game in college, and Austin was a starting quarterback and defensive back at Overland High School in Aurora, Colo., as a freshman.
But since opening eyes at the Adidas Invite Run in Las Vegas in April, he’s started to realize that his future might actually be as a point guard. Tom Crean apparently thinks so too. After honing in on the 5-foot-9 Conway beginning with the Adidas Invitational last month in Indianapolis, the Hoosiers offered the Class of 2015 recruit a scholarship on Tuesday. The Hoosiers previously offered De’Ron Davis, Conway’s 6-foot-9 travel squad teammate with the Colorado Hawks.
Hawks coach Art Williams can’t say for certain whether or not Conway will eventually take the Hoosiers’ offer. Indiana was the first to come forward with a scholarship, but western schools such as Arizona and Colorado have shown interest and Conway expects to attend a camp at Arkansas later this month.
However, Williams does believe Conway is starting to realize he belongs on the hardwood.
“He’s a really gifted athlete,” said Williams, who confirmed Indiana’s offer. “But I think he really sees he has an ability to accomplish a lot more on the basketball court.”
That appeared obvious at the Adidas Invitational where he and Conway reached the 15 and under championship game before falling to the Eric Gordon Central Stars. During the Hawks’ run Conway and the Hawks defeated what had been a dominant Indiana Elite squad which included IU target Hyron Edwards. Edwards was held scoreless in that game while Conway scored 24 points. Conway showed astounding speed and quickness in those games as well as strength beyond his diminutive height.
At least that’s what Indiana noticed.
“They really like how fast the kid is,” Williams said. “They like the way he handles the ball, how strong he is, how court smart he is. They think his upside is really good, and I agree.”
Though Conway may be leaning toward basketball, Williams said another one of his strengths is a mentality that comes from being a quarterback.
“He has an amazing work ethic,” Williams said. “He has the sort of work ethic that would allow him to go on a college campus right now and compete. … And Austin is just a leader. He steps on the court and demands the attention of his teammates.”
The next step for Conway, Williams said, is for him to become more well-rounded as a scorer. As it stands, he appears to have an innate understanding of how to affect the speed of the game, when to push the ball and when to slow it down into a half-court setting and facilitate. He also has the athleticism and strength to get to the rim just about any time he wants.
But at some point — especially because he’s 5-9 — he won’t be able to do all of that on athleticism. Conway hit some jumpers this July, but Williams said he still needs to be better from the perimeter.
“If he can develop that,” Williams said, “it will be really hard to guard him.”