PDT Sports Writer
Not every dream comes without hurdles, but those who work hard enough for their goals do not let obstacles become roadblocks.
That could be the mindset of recent South Webster graduate Austin Loop, who is participating in workouts for the Marshall University men’s basketball team. Loop, last season’s Division IV Southeast District Player of the Year, has opted to see if he can make the Thundering Herd as a walk-on after being invited to workouts in the summer.
Last week, the Charleston (W.V.) Daily Mail was the first to report Loop’s participation in open gym sessions.
“I wanted to experience that kind (Divison I) of basketball,” Loop said when it came to his final decision.
His high school coach, Steven Ater, couldn’t be more supportive of his former player’s decision.
“I’m proud of Austin for earning the opportunity to be a part of a Division I program, and not just any program, but a local team that has really been on the rise under Coach Tom Herrion,” Ater said in a written statement. “He will be a great ambassador for the South Webster program, school and community and we are all excited to see him begin the next chapter in his life and career.”
For his final season in a Jeeps uniform, Loop used a 17.1 points per game average to reach 1,000 points for his career. Not only did Loop receive high recognition from the region, he was also a Division IV First Team All-Ohio and Academic All-Ohio recipient.
Loop said it was at that time period in which coaches started gauging his interest.
“It was a big week and I was excited,” Loop said. “When coach (Ater) told me, I was excited.
“…It was a surprise for sure because I hadn’t heard from them, I didn’t know anything about it. Then one day, they contacted coach.”
Loop selected for Marshall over the opportunity to play immediately at Division III Marietta College. Ater has not spoken with Herrion on his thoughts towards Loop and Marshall officials told the Daily Times an official statement in regards to Loop won’t be made until late August at the earliest.
While the thought of playing major college basketball got him excited, Loop has tried to stay grounded during the process, knowing he needs to impress the coaching staff in order to earn playing time. Among the people who he’s been receiving advice from is his uncle, current Northwest boys basketball coach Rick Scarberry.
“We’re very proud of him obviously,” Scarberry said. “…We come from a family (involved in) basketball, my uncles all were players, my uncle coached me in high school.”
Scarberry, who lettered for Ohio University from 1982-1985, is one of the people Loop has looked up to during his basketball career along with Scarberry’s late brother Randy. Earlier this week, Scarberry told his nephew to balance out academics with athletics. This fall, Loop will study physical therapy.
Jokingly, Scarberry offered to lend Loop his Bobcat practice gear to wear during workouts in Huntington.
“He wasn’t too wild about that,” Scarberry said. “That’s probably not a good idea.”
For Ater, he felt Loop’s performance last summer at the Eastern Ohio Basketball Camp were signs that he could play Division I basketball. As one of the top players in the camp, Loop — who was best described as a Scottie Pippen-type of player by Ater — was selected for the Las Vegas AAU team.
One game in particular that stood out the most was against Wintersville Indian Creek. It was the last of 12 games that day for South Webster and the game was after 9 p.m., but Ater recalled Loop connected on up to as many as eight-straight 3-pointers to lead the team to victory.
“I remember thinking to myself that maybe he had a chance to separate himself and take that next step in his playing career,” Ater said.
Since taking over before the start of the 2009-2010 season, Ater feels Loop’s body has matured but feels his mentality towards the game has grown as well.
The Thundering Herd has yet to release their men’s basketball schedule for this upcoming year onto their official team site.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.