Austin Stone, a 6-foot-8 post player who became a force for the Blue Eagle basketball team during his three-year varsity career, has signed to play for the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie in Walterboro.
“Austin was the leader on our team,” CHS head boys’ basketball coach Bailey Jackson said during the announcement last week. “He developed tremendously in the last couple years.
“Austin came in as a sophomore and played varsity. He continued to improve, and now it’s given him the opportunity to play at the next level,” Jackson said.
Stone found the school to his liking the first time he visited the campus.
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“I like the campus a lot,” said Stone, the son of Kerri Stone Buie and George Buie of York and James David Stone and Melissa Stone of Texas. “It’s not big, it’s small. I know where everything is like I do in Clover.”
Stone said USC Salkehatchie needs a post player. The senior mainstay said playing basketball for the Blue Eagles helped prepare him for the next level.
“Coach Jackson is very strict on details,” he said. “It will help me at a different level of play.”
Kerri Stone has supported her son’s athletic choices since his formative years.
“It’s always been our goal for him to attend college,” she said. “I never imagined that he would grow to this height and have this opportunity. I am very proud of him.”
Kerri Stone said Austin’s first experience in organized basketball was in church league.
“Austin played a couple of years, then transitioned to football,” she said. “He played pee football for two years and continued playing football throughout junior high. He decided after playing football his freshman year that he wanted to try basketball.”
Kerri said the coaches at USC Salkehatchie spoke highly of the Blue Eagle basketball program.
“They said they were proud of the program coach Bailey has put together here,” she said. “They know that Austin has been conditioned the way they want their players to be conditioned as well.
“The coaches are very excited that he is coming from a good basketball program,” she said.
Austin, who said he’s always been taller than his classmates and teammates, is ready to accept his new challenge. “I will give them the same hard work and commitment I had with the Blue Eagles,” he said.
Jackson lauded Stone’s work ethic and willingness to accept a leadership role his senior season.
“I am excited for him,” Jackson said. “Austin has done what he needed to do to be in this position “He’s grown into a young man physically and mentally. We’re gonna miss him. We’ve got a great senior class and he’s certainly part of it.”