IU basketball offers Austin Parks, a ‘throwback’ center in 2023 class

As much emphasis as has been put on the four-out part of Mike Woodson’s four-out, one-in NBA style offense, the one-in is still an important piece of the whole. Woodson wants his big men to be skilled, but he also wants them to be big and tough enough to get the defensive rebounds necessary to get the break started.

Austin Parks, the center in the Class of 2023 to whom Indiana extended a scholarship offer this week, is that type of player. He still has two years of high school left at St. Mary Memorial High School in St. Mary’s, Ohio, but he has the frame and the low post game of a Big Ten center now.

Parks is listed at 6-foot-9, but Jake Meisler, his coach with the Ohio Buckets, said he’s bigger than that. And he is a solid 240 pounds.

“He’s a big body for a 16-year-old,” Meisler said. “He’s a legitimate 6-10 and he has a 7-foot wingspan. And the thing with Austin compared to any other player that size is his mobility and athleticism. He moves very well for that size. He has a great skill set. He’s very athletic, he pops off the floor. He’s kind of a throwback big man in that he’s got the size and the athleticism.”

Meisler said Parks is trying to extend his game and become more comfortable with his jump shot and perimeter game, but can be dominant with his back to the basket.

“He’s very good with set ups,” Meisler said. “His angles inside from 5 feet in are very good. He’s good at positioning. That 240-pound frame helps. Back to the basket, he’s the best big man I’ve seen this spring. I’m not just saying this because he’s plays for me. He’s seen some of the best big men on the shoe circuit and he’s the best true center out there. When he gets within distance, it’s a dunk. He’s got a nice turn and face game. He can go to a dunk or to a pull up. He hasn’t extended his game out to the 3-point line yet, but we are working on that.”

He’s also skilled at getting teammates involved out of the post.

“He’s a great passer out of the post,” Meisler said. “At the high school level, he gets all kinds of doubles and triples. It’s unheard of how good he is passing out of the post for his age.”

And defensively, he operates as a true center as well, great around the rim but also solid in pick and roll situations.

“A true rim protector,” Meisler said. “It’s hard for any guy to get inside with his size and jumping ability in there. He does step out and guard pretty well. He’s pretty solid laterally for his size. That’s something he’ll continue to improve on. But he’s good at bumping offensive guys out defensively, making them catch further outside than they want to. He walls off very well. He’s long, he jumps well, and he’s been a plus to keep these teams at one-and-done with his ability to rebound that first shot.”

Indiana has got in relatively early with Parks. He’s gaining interest from the Big Ten with Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue showing interest, but he has just six offers. The other five are Ohio State, West Virginia, Dayton, Toledo, and Ohio University. Meisler said he’s expecting to take Parks to Michigan State, Purdue and Dayton in August.

For a complete recap of Indiana’s 2023 offers and targets, GO HERE.

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