College Preview – Vaughn Autry

Ok in the first part of this two-part post I addressed how I look at true freshman when doing a preseason preview of college team. In the second part of this I want to look more closely at the freshman the Griz fans think I am short-changing – Vaughn Autry.

When I thought about doing this post, I decided I needed to really take a fresh look at Autry, so I contacted a handful of people. These are all folks who evaluate talent for a living, and one of them has seen Autry play over 25 times in the past 12-18 months I gave them a rundown of my initial logic in coming up with my Griz Preview to get their opinions. I also read all of the Egriz comments. Unfortunately I have only seen Autry once for about 15-20 minutes in an open gym situation, so I really do not feel that is enough to develop an independent opinion.

My Initial thoughts
When I wrote my previews of the Montana state and Montana previews the one area I struggled with was evaluating the Montana back court positions. I really scratched my head trying to get a handle how it will shake out and what was/is Tinkle and his coaches planning based on their recruiting choices. Here are my thoughts.

  • The Griz have only two front court players returnees in:

Cherry -a guaranteed starter and budding superstar
Stockton – a solid veteran / potential starter.

  • In the fall of 2009 Tinkle signed two highly rated high school guard / wings

Kareem Jamar – The more highly rated of the two and is looking very good preseason work outs.
Vaughn Autry – The player in question

  • In the spring Tinkle signed three JC guards/wings. One is a top-notch Big Sky, prospect the other two are middling Big Sky prospects

Art Steward – The best of the JC pick up should be the early leader for the starting small forward spot.

Jordan Wood – Nice pick up could be in the mix for a starting spot but more likely a player recruited to give depth.

Idris Lasisi – Nice pick up for a late May, but he eventually was ruled ineligible, and had to go back to the JC level.

  • Tinkle had a few high school prospects avail;able to him this past spring but still chose to go the JC route.
  • Then in August of this year the coaches found out that Lasisi was not eligible and the Griz once again had a scholarship open. When this happened Autry had been working out, on campus for over a month, and I would imagine by that the coaches, by that point, had a pretty good idea what they had in Autry.
  • Tinkle had three options. 1 Sign another JC to replace Lasisi and go for the quick fix, 2 sign a high school kid and go for the long-term player, or 3 save the scholarship for 2011 and not have to settle for what is left on the recruiting heap. I really thought Tinkle would save the scholarship. The Griz have only one scholarship (Qvale’s) to offer this year and they have been doing such a great job recruiting high school kids the past couple years it seemed the way to go. Instead Tinkle chose to go the first route and sign Chase Adams a good late summer pick up, but in some ways a clone of Jordan Wood. It was also interesting to me that both Lasisi and Adams (not to mention Woods) are combo guards, the same position as Autry. There is no doubt in my mind that the Griz could have picked up a Cherry, Jamar, Vaughn or Gregory caliber freshman this fall instead of signing a JC player who could have a hard time earning minutes in 2010-11.

These are the thought that went through my feeble mind as I was trying to put together my Griz men preview. Why sign a JC player so late if you have a hot freshman who plays the same position and a full complement of 6 to 7 guard / wings on the roster. That’s what put it in my mind that the coaches could be looking to possibly redshirt Autry.

In my preview I put Autry down the “Players Looking to Establish Themselves” list. In my mind I was not saying that he WOULD be redshirted but, but that I think the coaches are looking for these players to prove themselves. Players where we the fans and possibly the coaches do not yet know where the stand in the rotation. Autry has the potential from everything I have heard to play a significant role for the Griz this year, but I was not ready to pencil him in there yet. I also felt if Autry was not able to earn/establish himself as a 12-15 minutes a game or better player the coaches may indeed redshirt him, and use the year develop his potential and give him a 5th year. The Bobcats did this a few years back with Eric Rush. Rush was definitely better that some of the active players on the roster that year but the coaches did not want to waste a year of eligibility, for 10 minutes a game.

What the experts had to say.

It was pointed out to me by a couple guy’s that Autry picked Montana because he was told and felt it was a place he could go to and play right away. Both said they doubt whether Autry would accept a redshirt, ala Shawn Stockton of a couple of year ago.

Almost all of them feel he is not a point guard, but could be, with some work. There were some who mentioned, that they felt he was below average shooter for a guard but was more of a scorer. One gentleman told me that he thought that his shooting was definitely improving, he can now hit a three-point shot, when he is on he is great from that range but when he is not, it is not pretty. As an athlete he is a slightly above average athlete for the Big Sky level. He is a terrific leader, aggressive pushing the ball and can penetrate that lane to score, draw contact or dish to the open man when defenses collapse. Most feel as good as he is right now he will be he is going to be much improved player 12 months from now as he adjusts to his new role with the Griz. Most of the people I talked to mentioned that he is very coachable and a hard worker, and is constantly improving his game. 3 of the 4 feel he will be an All Conference player before he is done with the Griz.

My Revised Thoughts.

After talking to my friend I will say I am backing away from the idea that there is a chance that he may redshirt. I have always liked him a little more than Jamar, because I think Autry is a little more versatile, but I think that versatility also hurts him right now, and spreads him a little thin. I would still put him in the “Players Looking to Establish Themselves” list only because I think he and the coaches need figure out where he will fit into the rotation (they most likely have by now). Right now I would not be terribly surprised if he was the first guard off the bench this year or riding some pine most of the season behind the bevy of JC’s and returnees. I do think he is going to be a player who gets better and better as the season progresses.

And remember I always try to under-estimate the contributions of all True Freshman.

One more prediction. Between Cherry, Stockton, Wood, Jamar, Adams, Autry, and Steward who ever end up with the short ends up at the end of the bench by the end of the season look for their scholarship to open up.


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