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Augmon: Double-Teamed by Recruiters : Busy Blue Chip Muir High Cager Probably Will Decide in the Spring

February 27, 1986|MITCH POLIN | Times Staff Writer

Friday nights usually are hectic for Stacey Augmon, star forward of the Muir High boys basketball team.

But the last one may have been the busiest.

It started with his team's CIF 4-A Division playoff game against Warren in Altadena, where Augmon scored 30 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and had 7 steals to lead the Mustangs to a first-round win.

Shortly after the game, Augmon was getting ready for the second part of his long day.

Augmon, a slender 6-8 and 196 pounds, had just enough time to go home, change clothes, pack bags and board a red-eye special at Burbank Airport for a flight to Kansas.

Preseason All-American

The heavily recruited senior had scheduled the third of five allowable (under NCAA rules) recruiting visits, this one to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where he would see the Jayhawks play Kansas State the next day. He had already visited the University of Washington and Texas-El Paso.

Augmon, a preseason prep All-American, is one of the few blue-chip prospects in Southern California who has not selected a college.

Most of the top prospects settled the matter during the NCAA's early-signing period last November.

But at that time the 17-year-old Augmon wasn't close to making his decision.

"The reason I didn't sign early is because I wanted to see where all the good players in the area were going first," Augmon said. "I just wanted to take my time to make a decision."

Hitting the Books

"He's taking some core courses that he wanted to concentrate on and I don't think he was really ready to make a decision that early," added Muir Coach Mike O'Connor.

Augmon lived in the shadow of teammate Tony Akins in his junior year when he averaged 10 points a game. Akins is starring as a freshman at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

But Augmon admits that hard work may be the biggest difference between last season and this year.

"I had the ability last year but didn't know how to put it together," Augmon said.

After last season Augmon realized that his game needed improvement. "I was more of a finesse player last year," Augmon said. "I was mostly trying to look fancy and make the impressive shots."

So Augmon spent most of the summer playing in leagues and basketball camps and working on problem areas such as squaring up, jump shooting and strengthening his move toward the basket.

The result has been impressive.

Averaging 21 Points

Augmon was listed No. 28 in the nation on the Sporting News preseason All-American team and earned high honorable mention on the Street & Smith squad, and he has lived up to his billing. He is averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds a game and was the biggest factor in his team's winning the Pacific League title and going 24-2 during the regular season.

All that despite facing special defenses all season.

"That's the way it's been all season," O'Connor said. "He has been double- and triple-teamed every time he has the ball. I don't think he has seen a man-to-man (defense) all year."

O'Connor says improved attitude had a lot to do with the dramatic improvement in Augmon.

"He wasn't a leader at all last year," O'Connor said. "He was a strong competitor but he got too emotional at times. This year he is definitely our leader. He's taking control of things on the court."

Determined to Be Leader

"I thought about that a lot and I knew I had to be more of a leader this year," Augmon said. "The team expects me to be a leader, and I try to be a leader on and off the court."

It is mostly leading by example, though. The usually quiet and soft-spoken Augmon saves most of his actions for the court.

"He's one of the best high school players I've ever seen as a coach or fan," O'Connor said. "He just makes so many moves that I've never seen. As a coach, I just sit there open mouthed at times.

"When you talk about skilled players and great athletes, he's both. He has got all of the good instincts. He knows when and where to move. He can dribble, shoot and jump well. I think when you put all of those things together, you have a pretty good player."

College recruiters certainly will not argue with that.

O'Connor said added strength and weight may be the only two things that could prevent Augmon from being a standout in college.

Looking for Weight

"He's still relatively thin and they'll put more muscle on him in college," O'Connor said. "When you put a player like him on weights, there's no telling how good he can get."

Augmon says he needs weight more than strength.

"You look at me and I look weak. But I surprise a lot of people because they don't think I'm very strong. I'm stronger than most other guys my size, but they just outweigh me."

His slender build has not deterred scouts, who have swamped Augmon with letters and phone calls.

The recruiting process may be a distraction for some players, but Augmon has kept it to a minimum. "I have certain set times when I have scouts call me and I try to leave enough time to do other things.

"I have a schedule that I run through every day and it's pretty tight. But it allows me to have time for my school work. It doesn't leave a lot of time for socializing."

Besides visits to Kansas, Washington and Texas-El Paso, Augmon is considering Pepperdine and UC Irvine. He does not expect to decide until late March or early April.

For now, he is more concerned about his team's performance in the CIF playoffs.

Augmon vividly remembers last year's bitter two-point loss to Newport Harbor in the second round of the 4-A playoffs.

"It was a hard one to take," Augmon recalls. "As soon as it was over, I had next year on my mind. I think we have a lot more confidence this time."

Of course, having a player like Augmon doesn't hurt.

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