116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Maybe it seems a little funny, a 179-pound walk-on guard with 40 career points being a close friend and roommate of a 265-pound All-America center with 2,166 points.
Maybe it seems a little funny, that walk-on with 11 career 3-pointers telling reporters he'd bet on himself to win a 3-point-shooting contest against the teammate who is Iowa's all-time leader in that category with 344.
Here's what's really fun, though: On those every-so-often occasions when Austin Ash has made 3-pointers near the end of Hawkeyes wins, you see pure delight from his teammates on the sideline.
Ash, a Cedar Rapids native who scored over 1,000 points for Mount Vernon High, is winding up his Iowa men's basketball career along with the other two aforementioned players, top-scorer Luka Garza and top-3-point guy Jordan Bohannon. Though he's a fourth-year junior, he will go through Senior Day ceremonies with Bohannon, Garza and fellow walk-on Michael Baer Sunday before the Hawkeyes play Wisconsin in their home finale.
During games, Ash is a very vocal cheerleader. But don't dismiss his importance.
'You need guys like that on your team,' Bohannon said, 'guys who continue to motivate your team when times are tough. He's one of those guys that's always there to pick the team up, always there to cheer us on the sidelines.'
Ash could have kept playing at Iowa, but will seek to play at a Division I program as a graduate transfer with two seasons of eligibility left partly because of the NCAA's COVID-19 waiver year for everyone.
'He wants to be part of the game plan and not the scout team,' said his father, Carey Ash of Cedar Rapids. Carey and Austin are both lifelong Hawkeye fans.
'I'm forever grateful to Fran (McCaffery),' Carey said. 'To see our son run out of the tunnel at Carver, it put a tear in my eyes and my wife's.'
Carey said McCaffery, the Iowa coach, talked with him a few weeks ago about Ash's future with the team. McCaffery would have liked Ash to stay a Hawkeye, telling Carey that his son was an integral part of the club who 'knew the scouting report better than the assistants do.'
But Ash wants to play somewhere and is good enough to do so, and McCaffery told Ash's father he'd happily help find him a good place to play as a scholarship player.
Ash has either lived in the same dorm or apartment as Garza the last four years.
'Before the COVID,' Carey Ash said, 'he and Luka would leave home at 11 p.m. and sneak into Carver, and stay there till 2 in the morning working on their game.'
During timeouts, Ash often has a quick word for Garza.
'He's taught me a lot and I feel like I've taught him a lot of stuff as well throughout the games,' Ash said. 'I'm always telling him different moves he can do or how many fouls the opposing big men have, try to help him out. Off the court, the guy's always there for me, and I try to do the same for him.'
As for the Ash-or-Bohannon shooting question, 'I would have to pick myself there,' Ash said.
'Obviously, I wouldn't take anybody else against him in the country.
'He's hit so many clutch 3s throughout his career, but I have to take myself over him and I think he knows I would say that.'
Bohannon said he expected nothing different, saying 'He's one of the most-confident guys I know. That's why everyone loves him on the team.
'He's very, very skilled. He's one of the most-skilled players I've been around, one of the best shooters I've ever seen.
'He will do anything for this team to win.'
Carey Ash said his son won't spend any time considering his next school until this season's over.
'No distractions,' Carey said. 'He's focused on the Big Ten tournament and getting to the Final Four.'
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