A familiarity with new University of Missouri-Kansas City coach Kareem Richardson helped make Cahokia High School senior Darius Austin's Division I college basketball choice that much easier.
The 6-foot-7 Austin, who helped Cahokia (33-4) to a second-place finish at the Class 3A state tournament last spring, committed to the Kangaroos on Tuesday.
"The relationship I had with Coach Richardson was strong," Austin said. "He's been consistent with recruiting me ever since my freshman year when he was at Xavier. He stayed consistent and I always had a good relationship with him."
Richardson, an assistant coach under Rick Pitino on Louisville's national championship squad this season, was named UMKC's head coach March 19.
The versatile Austin has averaged 11.6 points per game in each of his last two seasons at Cahokia. Last year as a junior he also averaged a team-high 5.1 rebounds with 25 blocked shots.
"Last year my role was to help the team with everything because we were seven deep," said Austin, one of six experienced players returning for the Comanches. "The team was loaded and we had tons of scorers. I think we've got enough talent do it again this year."
Austin said he also had offers or interest from DePaul, Oregon State, St. Louis University, Indiana State and others.
"I could have stayed close, but this is four hours away and that's pretty close for my mom and my family to attend games," said Austin, whose versatility should be a plus at the next level. "They want me to play like a point-forward, so I'll just be a do-it-all player on the floor and try to get my teammates involved.
"The campus is real nice, not too big and not too small. It's wonderful."
Austin plays summer basketball with the Illinois Wolves team out of Chicago, which picked up a big tournament win at Riverside Brookfield.
"It's been a great summer for me," Austin said.
UMKC was 8-24 last season and Richardson worked at the school previously as an assistant coach in 2007-08. He also has coached previously at numerous schools, including Xavier, Evansville, Drake and Indiana State.
Cahokia's Carleton "C.J." Rivers is also receiving Division I interest from schools like Drake and Cornell and Gary Hickman also is on the recruiting radar.