Larry Austin Jr. has led from the front through recent adversity for Cheshire Phoenix and been recognised for his efforts with the Molten BBL Player of the Month award for April.
Cheshire have been down to a seven-man rotation after a pair of seemingly season-ending injuries, meaning that Austin Jr. – who is captain of the team – has had to take on an increased load. In April’s eight games, the elite two-way guard averaged 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals, while shooting 55% from the floor and setting the tone as talisman for the resilient Nix.
Most impressively that included a triple-double – just the third player to record one this season, and the first of his career – in Cheshire’s best offensive performance of the campaign as they beat Surrey Scorchers 105-81, Austin Jr. posting 25 points on 10-14 (71%) shooting, with 13 assists and 10 rebounds, along with seven steals as he eyed-up an extremelty rare quadruple-double.
He was also the dominant force all over the court in Cheshire’s North West derby win at the National Basketball Performance Centre, live on Sky Sports, as they beat arch-rival Manchester Giants to take the crucial head-to-head between the teams, Austin Jr. scoring 18 points with eight assists and six rebounds.
April ended with the Nix avenging their BBL Trophy Final loss against Caledonia Gladiators by knocking them out of the BBL Play-off quarter-finals, winning both the home and away legs with Austin Jr. particularly impressive at the Cheshire Oaks Arena as he scored 13 points with seven assists and five steals in a big double-digit win.
On the season overall, he is the league’s ninth leading scorer (15.9 points per game), eighth in assists (4.8), fifth in field goal percentage (52.8%) and, characteristic of his hard-nosed defence, the league’s leader in steals (2.6 per outing).
In his second season with the club, and first as captain, he has been instrumental in leading Cheshire to their highest BBL Championship finish since 2015, securing fifth place as they went 7-2 in the final month of the regular season, and their first BBL Play-off semi-final berth since 2016.