Austin Cross to play at prep school in Florida

Published 12:29 pm Monday, April 10, 2023

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Last week was a big week for Charles Henderson senior basketball player Austin Cross as he not only earned Class 5A Player of the Year, but announced his decision to play basketball at a prep school next season.

Cross will play basketball at Florida Coastal Prep Sports Academy in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., which will serve as an extra year of training and development before getting to the college ranks. While Cross had some preferred walk on offers – from schools like Kansas State – and other smaller college offers, he decided to go the prep school route so that he could continue to improve as a player without affecting his college eligibility.

“I needed that extra year of school, another year to mature and lift weights and add more to my game before I get to college,” Cross emphasized. “I needed that extra year. I wanted to maximize my four years in college as much as possible. Ultimately, I want to win a national championship and be the best college player I can be and I felt like this is the best way for me to do that.”

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Florida Coastal Prep is one of the top prep schools in the Southeast that plays some of the top junior college (JUCO) teams in the country along with playing other top prep schools, like IMG Academy. Because prep school isn’t actually college, it means that Cross will still have all four of his years of eligibility left in college when he decides to move on.

“I just want to go there and play well against some really good teams,” Cross said. “I want to be able to continue to build my name and get it out there more and develop my game further and keep shooting good and hopefully play well enough for us to win a championship.”

Cross, the son of Troy University Men’s Basketball Coach Scott Cross, was a member of the AISA State Championship team at Pike Liberal Arts in 2021-2022 before transferring to Charles Henderson this past season. Cross earned AISA Player of the Year honors and Class 5A Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons. He was also The Messenger’s Winter Athlete of the Year last season and earned All-Messenger and Troy Messenger Basketball Player of the Year this season, as well. After helping PLAS to a state championship as a junior, Cross and his teammates at CHHS finished state runner-up in Class 5A this season.

“It meant everything to me,” Cross said of transferring to CHHS for his senior season. “I was really desperate for another school after everything that happened at Pike with everyone transferring out last year. At Charles Henderson, I thought I would be playing better competition but I didn’t know we would be as good as we were.

“I felt like we could win a championship after I started there. I love Coach (Tim) Fayson, he was awesome for me and one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. Charles Henderson, as a whole, was so supportive. Everyone shows up to the games and it’s all love there.”

Cross said that without his father’s support he would never have achieved the success he’s earned thus far.

“That’s why I’m the player I am today,” he said of his father. “Every single day with him has made me better, I’m always at the gym getting work done with him. I love being around his players and that obviously helps me get better, too. I get to play pickup games with those guys and learn from them, too.

“My dad is always in the stands and supporting me, which makes me want to work harder. I could score 40 points and he won’t crack a smile and he pushes me to do more. That really has made me a better player.”

While Cross said he would love to play in college for his father, his goal is simply to get to a school and get to March Madness.

“I want to win a championship, I want to win a conference championship, and get to the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “That would be awesome if I could do that with my dad but either way, I want to play in March Madness. I follow all the (players) that score 20 plus (points) in the tournament and that’s fun to watch, and I like to score, so I’d like to be able to do that. I also want to shoot 40 percent or better in threes, stuff like that.”