Mat Auger is following in the footsteps of his varsity coach - at least in his choice of schools.
Auger was signed by Rio Grande and is the fifth recruit by new coach Ken French.
French said Auger is an important piece of this recruiting class, his first since taking over for Earl Thomas, the Redmen coach for 26 seasons.
“Anytime you line a bunch of dominoes, there's always that one space where you're waiting for that one to fall just to get the rest of them going again, and for us, it was Matthew Auger,” French said. “He's that next domino, it took a while to fall, but now he's fallen and we've got a couple more that are going to fall after him.”
Auger, a multi-sport performer at West, he played both guard positions in high school but seems naturally suited to the point guard spot in college. The 5-foot-10 Auger averaged eight points, six assists and four steals his senior season.
“It's going to be different, but I kind of like it, too,” Auger said. “I can really focus on (basketball) and do it every day and get better and better.
“Maybe down the road I'll see some varsity time. Right now, I'm going to concentrate and try to get better.”
Don Gibson, Auger's high school coach, also attended Rio Grande.
“I had a great experience when I was here,” Gibson said. “The majority of the people are not going to go to the NBA, so it's really about coming and having a good college experience and working with good people like coach French. Matt is that type of person, and so I just thought steering him in this direction would be a great choice for him.”
French said he isn't ruling out the guard getting some playing time on a team trying to bounce back from a 9-21 season and a last-place finish in the AMC.
“Everybody's got a clean slate, even the returners and all the people that we have signed,” French said. “(Auger is) a very good athlete and his work ethic is what's going to take him over the top. Whatever we ask him to do, I think he'll work on it and he'll improve and he'll be light years ahead of the level of basketball player he is now.”