Mount Carmel junior Alex Austin doesn't feel any pressure because of who is father is.
In fact, he likes it, especially when fans come up to his dad and start talking to him about the past. Alex is the son of Woody Austin, the 1988 Indiana Mr. Basketball and former Purdue star. Woody played for Richmond High School in southeastern Indiana.
"I guess living in Chicago, more people know my dad from his Purdue days," Alex Austin said. "My teammates know about my dad, but I never feel any pressure.
"It was kind of cool when I was a little kid, my dad would take me to Purdue games and people would come up and ask for his autograph. I figured if I worked hard, I can be good too."
Woody said not living in Richmond has made it easier for his son.
"I think that helps a lot because he would be hearing or being compared to me all the time," he said. "I am real proud of my son because he doesn't expect anything, but he does work hard to make himself better."
Austin and his Caravan teammates will face top-ranked Simeon at 7:30 p.m. today in one semifinal of the Class 4A Argo Sectional. The Wolverines, the defending champs, ended Mount Carmel's season last year in the Lyons Twp. Sectional final.
"We know they are a very good team, but we are excited to play them," Alex Austin said. "We have a pretty good team and we just have to play together."
Austin has come into his own this season. He said he has worked on his defense and ball-handling skills. He is averaging 13.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Austin is shooting 39 percent from 3-point range and 53 percent overall. Caravan coach Mike Flaherty said Austin has has turned himself from a stationary shooter with limited ball handling and defensive skills, into an all-around player.
"He is a more than capable defender who is one of our three primary ballhandlers," Flaherty said. "He is our second leading rebounder and able to score in a variety of ways. His improvement is probably the main reason we've been able to have the successful season we have had.
"We see very few gimmick defenses and double-teaming of Tracy (Abrams) now that Alex has shown what the consequence is. I know that by next year, he'll be one of the top players in the Chicago area."
Austin said Flaherty encouraged him to be more than a one-dimensional player by working with him.
"I knew for me to be a better player, I had to work on those little things over the summer," Austin said. "Coach Flaherty really spent a lot of time working with me to make sure I got better."
Woody Austin said he likes the strong academics of Mount Carmel as well as Flaherty's disciplinarian style.
"My son is challenged in the classroom and the court," Woody Austin said. "I know Coach Flaherty is teaching more than basketball skills to the kids. He is making them better persons, not just basketball players."