“It’s another stepping stone. I’m excited for it,” Harwood declared.
For Mustang coach Bob Williams, his soon to be former guard has his best years still ahead of him.
“Austin is one of those players who every year just kept getting better. I think his best basketball is ahead of him. He’s a hard worker and he’ll put the time in to keep getting better. Cleveland State is getting a good basketball player,” Williams stated.
“I think Austin has an advantage, because I believe he is already physically strong enough to play college basketball. He should be able to get in there right away and help contribute.”
According to Harwood, creating opportunities and driving the ball are two of the skills he will bring to the Cougars.
“I think I will create for everybody and be a threat on the court. I’m best at driving to the basket and creating opportunities for my teammates,” Harwood commented.
Cleveland State head coach Lee Cigliano has been watching Harwood play over the past two years, and it was the guard’s athleticism that made him a valuable signee.
“I was impressed with his athleticism. He has strength and an ability to drive it to the basket. He’s capable of being a significant contributor for us as a freshman next year,” Cigliano explained. “Like any player going from high school to college level there will an adjustment to make, so he will have some things to work on just like any other player that we sign. I think he has the talent to excel in our program. I like some of the things he can do offensively and defensively. There is a possibility for him to play a few positions on both ends.”
The Cougars were 13-12 overall this season, with a conference record of 8-10.
Their region tournament run was ended by Motlow State Community College.
This past season Harwood averaged 10.1 points per game, had 3.2 assists per game and also had 3.2 defensive rebounds per game.
The Cleveland State signee shot 71 percent from the free throw line and was 59 percent when shooting two-point field goals.
“His intensity is his biggest strength. He comes ready to play for every game. His defense is really good. He takes the basketball to the hole really strong and I think when he works more on his outside shot he will be pretty hard to stop,” Williams said.
The Mustangs were the “surprise” team in District 5-AAA hoops for the past two years, which was Harwood’s favorite memories while playing ball at Walker Valley.
“Winning the district two years in a row is probably my favorite memory. No one knew it was coming,” Harwood explained.
In his junior year, the Mustangs went 19-12 overall and topped Bradley Central 51-41 in the championship game. This past season, Coach William’s squad was 23-11 and defeated Cleveland 68-63 in the championship game.