Weiher used to collegiate competition

Weiher used to collegiate competition

By Aaron Graff

SIU men’s basketball has a freshman who faced collegiate competition while he was in high school.

Redshirt freshman forward Austin Weiher played basketball at Creating Young Minds Academy in Irving, Texas, where where he competed against junior college teams. Creating Young Minds does not offer classes, so players attend Winfree Academy, a charter school that allows students to work at their own pace. Winfree has six campuses. Weiher attended the Irving campus.

“It was more difficult than prep schools, but it wasn’t overwhelming,” Weiher said.

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While Weiher is redshirting this season to improve for next year, he said Creating Young Minds prepared him for collegiate competition.

“They got me in the weight room early,” Weiher said. “They got me physically ready for this. We also played a bunch of colleges to get my speed of the game up to where it needs to be.”

Saluki coach Barry Hinson said he recruited Weiher because of his size. Weiher is 6-foot-8 and 205 pounds.

“We needed size,” Hinson said. “We had to have somebody that we felt like could give us that. The bonus factor of that was, we knew he had offensive skill.”

Hinson said the thing that keeps Weiher off the floor is his defense, but that is typical for freshmen.

Creating Young Minds Academy coach Mathis Crowder said Weiher is a team-first player, and very skilled offensively.

“One time before the game I told him I wanted him to go for 30 or 40 [points],” Crowder said. “In the first eight minutes he took 10 shots. Then he came out of the game and asked, ‘Coach Mathis, am I being selfish?’ I said, ‘I told you to go for 30.'”

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Crowder said Weiher’s ability to score efficiently opened up the court for other players.

Despite Weiher’s talent, Crowder said education and character are top priorities with his players. He said he coached an Amateur Athletic Union team in Seattle and always butted heads with high school coaches because he demanded a 3.0 GPA or better. He said high school coaches would let players play with a 1.9 GPA.

Crowder started the Creating Young Minds program in 2011 to make sure athletes were receiving quality educations. Crowder said when he played basketball, he saw talented players never go far because they lacked education.

“Basketball is a very real small percentage of your life,” he said. “Even if you go to the NBA.”

Crowder said he takes pretty much any player who has a good work ethic. He said Weiher was no exception, and other teams denied his skill as a basketball player.

“Austin came from where he was told he was nothing,” Crowder said. “In high school, he was told he was nothing. He was told he was a tree, that he was worthless. He was told that by his coaches.”

Crowder said Weiher’s work ethic will pay off for the Salukis in the long run.

“[Weiher] is one of those kids that can be the face of a program,” Crowder said. “If you invest and you believe in him. He’s one of those kids.”

Aaron Graff can be contacted at [email protected], on Twitter @Aarongraff_DE or 536-3311 ext. 269

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