Top-5 recruit Shakira Austin verbally commits to Maryland

Maryland has picked up a verbal commitment from Class of 2018 power forward Shakira Austin. She announced her commitment on her Twitter account Sunday evening.

Austin, a 6-foot-5 junior forward out of Colonial Forge High School in Fredericksburg, Va., is the fifth-ranked player and second-ranked power forward in the Class of 2018 according to ESPN. She is the second player in her class to verbally commit to Maryland, with the first being point guard Taylor Mikesell, who is the No. 22 player in the class.

When Austin joins the Terps for the 2018-19 season, she should be able to compete for a starting spot with fellow forwards Brianna Fraser, Stephanie Jones and Jenna Staiti. She could also have the post scoring skills to fill the offensive hole that will emerge when senior Brionna Jones graduates.

The athletic forward from Virginia is comfortable in the post and on the perimeter, and thinks she can contribute in many ways on the court. She says she can handle the ball and is a playmaker from any position on the floor. According to Austin and her head coach, her defense needs improvement, but she won’t stop working on it.

“The biggest thing is, she’s always willing to improve her game,” Austin’s high school coach Lashaun Cook said. “Her work ethic and her motivation to become a better person overall is what’s really gonna help her.”

Austin chose the Terps over other powerhouse programs, including UConn, Notre Dame and South Carolina, among many others. She chose College Park partly because of its proximity to her hometown.

“My parents will be able to watch most of my games and see [me] on the holidays [when] we’re home,” Austin said. “I’m comfortable with the [University of Maryland] environment.”

Cook saw the same thing in Austin’s desire to become a Terrapin.

“I think Maryland has always been in her sights just because of how close it is and as well as the phenomenal coaching staff that [they] have there,” Cook said. “I’ve always seen her as a Maryland player. I don’t think it took much convincing because she loves Maryland basketball, period.”

The winning environment that Maryland basketball displays can be greatly attributed to head coach Brenda Frese, whose winning ways have swayed many recruits, including Austin.

“[I can’t wait to] be coached under one of the greatest women’s basketball coaches and just [enjoy] the chance to get better under Coach Frese,” Austin said.

Success helps a lot with recruiting, but Frese has also created lasting relationships with players that make them want to be a part of the Maryland tradition. Frese’s ability to connect with players helped her land Austin, who is her highest ranked commit since the Class of 2008’s fifth-ranked player Lynetta Kizer. Through Jan. 30, Austin has averaged 18.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game on her junior season.

“I talked to Coach Frese almost everyday and we’ve built a relationship,” Austin said. “I trust her and I know she will make me the best player I am capable of being. Maryland is the only school so far that has proven I’m their top priority.”

While Austin keeps her sights set on college basketball, Cook is looking even beyond that.

“The sky’s the limit for that girl,” Cook said. “Just to know her work ethic and how well she receives information, I feel like I can see the WNBA in her sights.”

Austin is still over a year away from joining the Terps, and several years away from the pros, but her outlook on the future is already bright.

“I honestly can’t wait to play for such amazing coaches and their program,” Austin said. “I know with the right players we’ll be capable of being national champions.”

Edited by Max Marcilla

Connor Newcomb
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Connor Newcomb

Connor is a journalism major from Fallston, Maryland. Aside from TLB, he has also worked for Maryland Baseball Network, WMUC Sports and Fish Stripes on SB Nation. It is said that he will never be truly happy until the Orioles win a World Series in his lifetime. He reminds you to never bunt.
Connor Newcomb
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About Connor Newcomb 102 Articles
Connor is a journalism major from Fallston, Maryland. Aside from TLB, he has also worked for Maryland Baseball Network, WMUC Sports and Fish Stripes on SB Nation. It is said that he will never be truly happy until the Orioles win a World Series in his lifetime. He reminds you to never bunt.