An Inside Look At USA Basketball’s Up And Coming Stars
Colorado Springs, Colorado
• VIDEO: Mini-Camp Highlights
The following is a look at two of the athletes who were in attendance during the Oct. 4-5 Junior National Team Mini-Camp at the U.S. Olympic training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Austin Wiley (Spain Park H.S./Hoover, Ala.) knew basketball success from an early age. Raised in a basketball-crazed family, he was no stranger to the various opportunities the game can bring.
His mom, Vickie Wiley (née Orr) won bronze with the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team in 1992 and won two gold medals with the 1990 USA World Championship and Goodwill Games teams after a successful college career at Auburn University. His father, Aubrey, followed a similar path, also playing college ball at Auburn. Even Wiley’s older brother plays at a small junior college in Alabama.
So it seemed natural that their youngest son would follow suit.
“I began playing at age 6, but hated it at first,” Austin Wiley said. “But, once I started working at it and improving, I can’t get enough.”
His mother certainly was excited. Though she didn’t want to push him into the game, her connections to the sport run deep.
While at Auburn, Vickie Wiley helped lead her team to two National Championship games, all the while snagging second place overall in total points scored at 2,035. In addition, she accumulated 1,006 rebounds throughout her career, played professionally in Italy and coached two years at Auburn, before realizing coaching was ultimately not for her.
“Unlike most people, I had no problem moving on from the game. I’d accomplished everything I set out to do,” Vickie said.
Her son, however, can’t get enough of the game.
But, despite loving the game, don’t expect to see another Wiley on the bench coaching in the future. Instead, Austin wants to stay involved another way.
“College coaching isn’t for me -- it’s too stressful. I think I want to do something along the lines of athletic training, where I can still be involved with the game once I am done playing,” he said.
As for his skills on the court, it goes without saying that he has a leg up on the competition due to his pedigree. Although this is the sophomore’s first USA Basketball camp, he was a force on the court his freshman year.
All eyes are on this budding player to make major moves in the coming years.
“For me, it’s come full circle with Austin being invited to the USA Basketball camp, “ said Vickie. “I can’t count the number of summers I spent here in Colorado Springs playing basketball and now my son has started down the same path.”
Will Austin follow in his mother’s famous footsteps? Only time will tell.
On the other side of the court, sophomore Michael Porter Jr. (Father Tolton Catholic H.S./Columbia, MO) stands at 6-fot-4, but is listed as a guard. A mistake, you say? Not so fast.
“Despite my height, I was raised as a guard, so I have the ball-handling skills of someone half my size,” Porter said.
Raised as one of eight kids, Porter’s family was big, loud and basketball-obsessed. His mother played at Iowa and two of his sisters currently play at Missouri, where his dad is an assistant coach for the women’s team.
Needless to say, Porter was cut out for the game at an early age. Handed a basketball at three years old, he initially didn’t like basketball. With continued encouragement and playing with his father, Porter began to realize he had a real knack for the game.
“We had this old hoop out back and I would go play back there, every day. Slowly, as I improved, I began to really enjoy the sport,” Porter said.
When Porter received his invite to the USA Basketball camp, his father played the voicemail on the speaker for the family to hear.
“It was such an exciting day,” said Porter. “It’s an honor and blessing to wear the Red, White and Blue and I am very thankful to be here.”
When asked about his future in the sport, Porter smiles and shrugs. He is currently working on enjoying every moment of this journey and will figure out the future when it comes.
In the meantime, he continues to dominate on the court.
USA Basketball will select a group of players to come to Colorado Springs in May of 2015 to try out for the U16 National Team. Check www.usab.com for updates and team announcements.