Godfather of St. Louis Basketball 'loves' hiring of Martin by Mizzou

FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2017, file photo, California head coach Cuonzo Martin yells during an NCAA college basketball game against UCLA. Martin was named Missouri's new head coach on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker, File)

COLUMBIA, Mo, --- Take it from one who knows.

Missouri fans are going to love Cuonzo Martin.

No, not from me. Hardly. It's the gentleman they call the Godfather of St. Louis Basketball, Earl Austin Jr.

Austin's career in basketball parallels that of Martin's in time --- both have been at it for about 30 years. And both have been very good at what they do --- Martin as an accomplished player and coach, Austin as an accomplished student of the game who has an uncanny knack for spotting talent at an early age.

If there's a kid bouncing a basketball somewhere in St. Louis, chances are, Earl's there. From youngsters in AAU Basketball to serving as analyst the last 26 years for Saint Louis Billikens basketball, Earl's there.

He might know as much about basketball as James Naismith, Red Auerbach and Mike Krzyzewski.


So when he says that Jim Sterk and the Tigers have hit a home run with this hire, believe it.

"I love the hire," Austin said Wednesday evening. "He's a special person ... he's successful because he does it through hard work and integrity and a no-nonsense approach to winning.

"In this day and age, when everybody likes the flash and the shiny stuff, Cuonzo is old school."

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