The Scoring Machine
Will somebody PLEASE guard Austin Richie?
by Dave Spahn / @davespahn
On the first day of kindergarten, we all start to learn valuable life lessons like “Share with everyone around you,” and “Always say please and thank you,” or even the classic “Treat others how you would like to be treated.” Austin Richie definitely took a sick day on that first day of kindergarten because he flat out humiliates every opponent he faces.
Through his first 11 games, Richie netted an incredible 38 points per game, shot 90.9 percent from the free-throw line, and shot nearly 50 percent from the floor. He already recorded a 44-point outing earlier in the year and has shown no sign of slowing down anytime soon. He owns every scoring record at Lowell (IN) High and has a chance to rewrite a few more prestigious records in Indiana state history. Austin currently ranks among the top five scorers in the country, something that no player from his high school has ever come close to doing before.
At first glance, Austin might not pass the eye test for a supreme scorer. Standing at a less-than-intimidating 6-1, 160 pounds, Austin constantly draws criticism about his game.
During his AAU games this summer, college coaches constantly walked over to the court where Austin was playing and asked their colleagues, “Which one is Richie?” Every time, a new crowd of coaches pointed towards the skinny, long-haired kid on the CAPS All-Stars.
Some coaches responded “Very funny. Which one is he really?” Others chimed in “That kid? Are you sure?”
Richie hears these critics, but he relishes the opportunity to prove them wrong.
“I try and always play with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder,” explained Richie. “I think some of it has to do with being the youngest of two other Division I brothers. I think it also comes from being told you can’t. I always wanted to prove people wrong and that’s how I approach the game every time I step on the court.”
Richie quietly inked his letter of intent to Western Michigan University — the same school that his older brother/AAU coach/ high school coach Nate Richie began his college career at. Nate left Western Michigan after one year and ended up at Drake University, and even though his experience at Western Michigan left him with a sour taste in his mouth, he refused to let Austin be persuaded by his situation. Nate insists that he never had any problems with the school, town, or even their current coaching staff. His problems with Western Michigan left town a while ago, leaving the door open for Western Michigan to receive a second chance from the Richie family.
Much of the credit for landing Richie needs to go to Western Michigan assistant Rick Carter, who caught wind of Richie’s skills early in the process and offered Richie a scholarship right away. His honesty, charisma and upbeat personality made an impression on Richie from the start. “I really felt like he understood what I was looking for,” explained Richie. “I liked the fact that he was real and honest with me throughout the whole process.”
Carter fought off a host of schools for Richie’s commitment, wrapping up one of the best classes in recent memory for the Broncos that also includes 6-3 sharpshooter Hayden Hoerdemann of Bloomington Catholic (IL).
Richie still has seven regular-season games to play before the March Madness playoffs heat up, but his legacy will never be forgotten at Lowell High School. He set his school’s single-season scoring average record last season with 27 ppg, a record Richie will undoubtedly break yet again this season. Richie broke the record for games with 30+ points with 50 — another record that he expects to break. He’s currently pacing himself to break the all time single-season school scoring record of 550 points in a season.
But torching the nets only covers part of Richie’s stamp on Lowell. His 3.9 GPA, upbeat attitude, and positive demeanor add just as much to his reputation as his basketball skills do. Before he departs for Kalamazoo, the paper-thin 6-1 sniper will try to bring home the final piece of his legacy: a state championship. Richie must go through the gauntlet of top tier Indiana high school teams to bring home the big hardware to Lowell.
A task too tall? Possibly. Don’t tell Richie that, however, because he lives to defy logic. He’s had a lot of practice in that category, and he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.