Kyle Austin went from playing power forward, small forward, shooting guard and point guard in high school to barely playing at all as a freshman at USC.
His opportunities were so scarce that Austin on Tuesday could recall exactly how many minutes he played (19) during a victory against George Washington in which he was instrumental in the Trojans' second-half comeback. It was pretty much the only highlight of the season for the power forward, who played 27 minutes combined in Pacific 10 Conference games.
"That was one of the biggest things I had to deal with last year, not playing," the former Pasadena High standout said. "I didn't necessarily feel that I should have even been playing in front of anybody, but it was just hard to cope with not playing."
Austin may not need to devise any more coping strategies if his shift to small forward has its intended effect.
The 6-foot-7, 195-pound sophomore hopes to make a bigger impact at his preferred position.
"I just think I'm naturally suited to be a three," said Austin, who averaged 1.4 points and 1.6 rebounds last season in 17 games. "There's not too many 6-6, 6-7 power forwards at this level, and if they are [that height], they have a lot more weight than I do."
The transition has been a smooth one defensively for Austin, who said he needed to work on developing a more consistent outside shot and "learning how to run the offense as a three." Playing the three, Austin said, will also entail taking three-point shots.
Austin has already found an admirer in teammate O.J. Mayo, the freshman guard who called Austin "a special player to have on your side as far as causing mismatches."
Mayo said Austin's ability to post up smaller opponents could be an asset for the Trojans.
Though Coach Tim Floyd has said he envisioned redshirting Austin this season after allowing him to target areas for improvement as a freshman, Austin hopes his impressive play will force Floyd to shift his position.
"I feel pretty optimistic that I should crack the rotation," Austin said.
For the second consecutive year, USC will hold a "Dribble for the Cure" fundraiser before its Cardinal and Gold scrimmage on Sunday at the Galen Center to raise money for pediatric cancer research and treatment.
Participants will dribble basketballs through a designated course on campus and will have an opportunity to meet Floyd. Participants are asked to either pay a $25-admission fee -- $10 for children 12 and under -- or raise pledges of at least $25.
Prizes, including signed team memorabilia, will be distributed at the event, which begins at 9 a.m. and includes a T-shirt and free admission to the Trojans' 1 p.m. intrasquad scrimmage. For more information, visit www.dribbleforthecure.com.