When Shakira Austin’s father introduced her to basketball, there was no pressure: He wanted her to decide whether she liked the game, and, initially, she didn’t.
“When I was in fourth grade,” Austin said, “I actually hated it.”
So, she stopped playing. But a few years later as a middle schooler, she gave basketball another shot. This time, something clicked, and Austin has never looked back. She became one of the best high school players in the country and the best recruit of Maryland’s No. 5-ranked 2018 class.
“I told [my dad] I wanted to play basketball and take it serious and get a scholarship,” Austin said. “He was always there just pushing me and making me better, and he still is, even though I’m a McDonald’s All-American.”
Austin is the No. 3-ranked senior in the nation, according to ESPN. She won high school championships as a junior and senior and is a 2018 McDonald’s All-American. On Sunday, the 6-foot-5 forward was named MVP of the away team at the 2018 Jordan Brand Classic after finishing with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
She said she committed to Maryland over programs like UConn, Notre Dame and UCLA due to the Terps’ coaching and atmosphere.
“Coach Frese definitely showed she wanted me more than most the other coaches,” Austin said. “The family environment with the whole college and the team, I just felt the family vibe, and clearly it’s only an hour from my parents so they’ll be able to support me throughout my season at Maryland.”
Austin has already built relationships with current and future teammates, and with three former McDonald’s All-Americans already on the roster for next season, Austin believes the team has huge potential during her time in College Park.
“I pretty much know the whole team and the recruits for my class and the next year’s class,” Austin said. “I think all of us including Kaila Charles and a couple other players are gonna be there until they graduate. I think it’s just gonna be a great team.”
And as far as personal expectations, Austin hopes to accomplish something no other Terp has.
“I just want Coach Frese to be able to use me to the best of her ability and just win her some national championships,” Austin said. “And hopefully Coach Frese will get me to [be] the No. 1 draft pick.”