Article all Underclassmen Thinking About Leaving Early Should Read

Discussion in 'The Tiger's Den' started by marcmc99, Jan 28, 2004.

  1. marcmc99

    marcmc99 Founding Member

    Aug 21, 2003
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    It's about former MSU basketball player Mario Austin, but it's a pretty good article about receiving bad information from an agent and leaving school early, then getting even more bad advice.

    Austin's heart with Bulldogs tonight vs. Volunteers

    By Todd Kelly
    [email protected]

    He'll be more than 600 miles away, sweating through the second half of his twice-a-day workouts at a training center in Clearwater, Fla., working to realize his NBA dream.

    But don't think Mario Austin's heart — the one he proudly insists bleeds maroon and white — will be anywhere but at Humphrey Coliseum tonight.

    It's likely that after Mississippi State is finished playing Tennessee, either MSU senior guard Timmy Bowers or Bulldogs assistant coach Robert Kirby will get a phone call from Austin. They'll go over the game, the highs and lows, the good points and the bad.

    "If it's on TV, then he'll just about give me a blow by blow," Kirby said.

    If there was an official list of Bulldog basketball diehards, Austin would surely rank near the top.

    "When he said he loved this university in the newspaper or on TV, he meant it," Kirby said.

    But for this season, anyway, Austin doesn't expect to return to The Hump, the place where he was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference center, where his name — Mar-i-o Aus-tin, clap, clap — was a familiar chant for MSU's student section, and where Rick Stansbury's oldest son, Isaac, still runs the grounds in a miniature replica of Austin's maroon No. 33 jersey.

    "I miss it a lot," Austin said Tuesday. "I miss coming out for the game, warming up, having conversations with the fans. Like I said when I left, it's tough to leave when you know you have people who are pulling for you 100 percent.

    "Having to come back and face the fans and everybody with this situation, where they're asking me, 'What are you doing now?' is hard because I can't tell them. I really don't even know right now."

    It's hardly the scenario Austin envisioned when he decided last April to give up his final year of eligibility to enter the NBA draft.

    Under the assumption he was a surefire first-round pick (and thus in line for a guaranteed three-year contract), Austin instead slipped to the seventh pick of the second round by the Chicago Bulls.

    After playing for Chicago's summer-league entry, Austin was offered a one-year deal with no guarantees. Austin, though, said he decided to follow the advice of his agent at the time, Bill Duffy, and check into an offer from a professional team in Russia.

    What followed, according to Austin ,was a one-month odyssey. The short version involves Austin's signature on a two-year contract with CSKA Moscow, a harrowing stay at a hospital with a collapsed lung in Yugoslavia, and Austin's successful ploy to recover his confiscated passport for his trip back to America.

    After returning home in late September, Austin spent four more days in a Meridian hospital when the lung collapsed again.

    Austin has since replaced Duffy with Jason Levien, a Miami attorney who is working to free Austin from his contract with the Russian team. Levien has been in contact with Bulls officials and seems cautiously optimistic Austin could get a shot with Chicago's rookie-league team this summer.

    "We're making progress , but it's slow," Levien admits.

    His downtime — and Austin acknowledges he has experienced his share of it lately — has given him time to reflect on his ordeal as well as his early departure from MSU. Austin calls the decision a mistake, fueled by what he said was bad information.

    "It's only a dream when they say they can guarantee you're a first-round pick or guarantee they can make you a multi-millionaire," Austin said. "They can't do anything but sell your name. That's it. I didn't have anyone to explain that to me. It was like I was thrown to the pit bulls. I just had to find out that whatever happened, happened."

    Austin came close to declaring for the NBA draft as a high school senior in Alabama and again after his sophomore season with Mississippi State. When he made the jump last season, he said he did so in order to financially support his family.

    These days, Austin is working toward another shot at his lifelong ambition, determined to be ready when his contract snag is cleared up and if the NBA calls. In the meantime, he'll keep one eye on his Bulldogs.

    "I knew they'd do well this year," Austin said. "I played with those guys, so I'm not surprised.

    "If I knew everything was going to go down like it did, I would have stayed in school. But I look at it like this: If you don't have things in your way or stuff that tries to bring you down, then life would be too easy. This is just an obstacle. I have to step over it, continue with my life and go ahead on."
  2. MikeD

    MikeD Sports Genius

    Sep 5, 2002
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    That sucks that he was steered in the wrong direction by people trying to make money off of him. These guys need to learn only to trust people that don't have anything to gain from their decision to go pro or not. The NBA will give underclassmen an evaluation and likely draft spot.

    Instead of going to Russia, he should have entered the NBDL and if he was good enough he would be in the league in due time. Kind of like the journey Ronald Dupree has made.

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