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Indiana recruit keeps basketball on his mind

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For more on college recruiting, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Crean watches adidas Invitational action

Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 8:01 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Austin Conway is adamant — basketball is his future.

And yet ...

The Colorado point guard has a bunch of college scholarship offers — in football. He is a make-something-happen quarterback. Nebraska wants him. Colorado and Colorado State want him. Michigan, Ohio State and Oregon are taking a long look at him.

And yet ...

Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean wrote notes furiously while watching Conway and his Colorado Hawks team Wednesday night during the adidas Invitational at Indianapolis' Northview Middle School. Of course, Crean writes notes all the time, but that misses the point, which is that Crean sees Conway's basketball potential. The coach hasn't offered a scholarship yet, but the possibility grows with each solid game Conway delivers.

During Wednesday's decisive victory over Dorian's Pride, Conway delivered plenty, which is why he insists basketball is in his future.

“I'm a competitive person. Whatever I do, I compete. Basketball has treated me well. I think I'll play basketball at the next level. I play football to help me with basketball. It's a physical sport, and I try to take everything I do on a football field and translate it to the basketball court.

“Football helps with vision on the court. Reading football is the same thing as reading basketball. All it is is making the right decisions and being a leader.”

And that college leading, he insisted, won't be in football.

“I'm sure basketball is my calling. I still play both, just in case.”

That's fine with Colorado Hawks coach Art Williams.

“The kid can do whatever he wants to do. He's going to have opportunities to do whatever he wants to do. He's already gotten high-level D-I offers for football.

“But I think basketball is his sport. I'm a basketball coach, so I'll say that. It had better be basketball. He's really starting to put himself in the gym to get better as a basketball player.”

Conway is a lightning quick point guard. He has fast hands, quick feet and an explosive first step.

“Speed-wise, Austin is probably the fastest guy I've ever seen with the ball,” Williams said.

Conway gets to the rim as easily as Miami's Birdman adds tattoos. And, yes, he knows it, although not in an arrogant way.

“I feel I can get to the basket any time I want,” he said, “but you still have to respect every defensive player.”

Conway has the kind of make-other-players-better mindset that enabled IU's Yogi Ferrell to make instant impact last season as a freshman. He also has similar size — he's listed at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds.

“I want to make sure I get teammates involved and make them better,” he said. “I'm playing quarterback on the basketball court.

“We're only as good as our weakest link, and right now everybody looks good. Everybody looks strong.”

Conway, a member of the Class of 2015, has gotten just one basketball scholarship offer so far, from Nebraska. But the Cornhuskers are not in his top-5. Indiana is along with Arizona, Arizona State, Harvard and Stanford.

Why the Hoosiers?

It starts with Crean, who was a busy guy bouncing from Northview to nearby North Central High School to keep up with all recruiting action.

“I love Coach Crean,” Conway said. “He's a great coach. He's the most respected coach, in my opinion. He got on the phone and critiqued my game. He also told me how great a person I was. His support has helped me a lot.

“He's given me a list of things I need to get better at. I've taken everything he's told me to become a better player. I appreciate everything he's done for him. It was big support for him to be watching me (Wednesday night). I'm sure, if I get a chance, I'll ask him what I did wrong.”

Outside shooting is not Conway's strong point, and he knows that, too.

“I struggle with it. I worked on it all summer. I still can't get the shots to fall, but I'm staying confident with it. I have to be more consistent.

“I also have to work on my left hand. I prefer to go with the left hand, but sometimes in situations where I need to score, I tend to go to my right hand.”

Added Williams: “He's working on his jump shot so when (defenders) back off two to three feet, it's easy for him to knock down that jump shot. He's constantly working on it.”

Conway, who lives in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, has not visited IU, but hopes to do that later this summer or this fall.

“They were one of the first schools to contact me. That meant a lot. I want to make sure I show the same love to them they've shown me.”

First, though, there's an adidas Invitational title to win.

“We're going to compete and make a run at this title,” he said. “I think we're a championship team. We're going to prove that.”