Coach Matthew Graves has landed the first player of his South Alabama career with the commitment of forward Austin Karazsia of Linton, Indiana.
"The main reason I selected South Alabama is the connection I felt with Coach Graves," said Karazsia. "I've known him for a while and he's really good friends with my high school coach, Joey Hart. When I went down there, it just seemed like the perfect fit."
Mobile and the USA campus itself also had an impact on his choice.
"Before this whole process started I had no idea what South Alabama was about. I'd heard of the school but I'd never really thought about it in any way. The minute I got down to Mobile and saw downtown I got a good vibe for the city. But the minute I got on campus I knew this was the place I wanted to be. The weather was great, it's very green, there's a lot of life on campus and the facilities were great. There's palm trees on campus! You don't get that in the Midwest. I'm ecstatic to be going to school there."
Graves made it clear from the moment of his hiring that he will focus on bringing in bringing in players with a high skill level and Karazsia may be the archetype of the sort of players USA fans can expect to see in the future. A 6'8", 200lb post player from a basketball-crazed state, he led his Linton Stockton team to a 24-3 record and the 2A state championship game. In that final game, his team fell to heavily-favored Bowman Academy 86-73, but Karazsia was a star as he scored 29 points (11 of 13 from the field) with 10 rebounds and three assists.
Throughout the year he showed his effectiveness and versatility as he averaged 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Especially impressive are his shooting percentages: 70.3% from the field, 81.8% from the line and 36.3% on his three point attempts.
A good athlete with notable competitiveness and work ethic (he was the winner of the Class 2A Mental Attitude Award), Karazsia was also a standout as a quarterback for the football team. He completed 71% of his passes for 3,328 yards, 42 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions for his 13-1 team. He received recruiting interest for his football prowess but has chosen to follow his heart and play basketball on the next level.
As a freshman next season Karazsia is expected to get some court time in a backup role. A crowded frontcourt situation will definitely make him earn the time that he gets.
Karazsia picked South Alabama over Indiana State (where family members have played football), Ball State, IUPUI and Wright State.