Ansbach’s Jon Austin (left) drives around Heidelberg’s Jonathan Williams during Friday’s game. With his mother deployed, Austin will return to the States over the holidays.

Ansbach’s Jon Austin (left) drives around Heidelberg’s Jonathan Williams during Friday’s game. With his mother deployed, Austin will return to the States over the holidays. (Stars and Stripes)

Ansbach’s two-sport star Jon Austin is going places. And that’s bad news for the Cougars.

Austin, a 6-foot, 162-pound sophomore, has emerged as one of Europe’s most skilled athletes, having helped lead Ansbach to a pair of Division III football championships and earning all-conference and Division III-South tournament MVP honors in basketball last year.

But the Cougars will have to play without their star this basketball season. With his mother deployed, Austin is leaving for Fayetteville, N.C., when Ansbach breaks for the holidays.

“I’m going to stay with my grandmother while my mom’s deployed,” Austin said.

The loss not only hurts the Cougars, but the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, too, said Ansbach coach Ted Marr.

“He was a showcase for the [DODDS] system,” Marr said after watching Austin score 21 points and pull down 15 rebounds in a 53-35 loss to defending D-I champ Heidelberg.

Ansbach went unbeaten in both seasons the ball-hawking Austin played defensive back. He had eight interceptions as a freshman and six more as a sophomore.

“I can recall very few ninth-graders who ever played for me,” said Ansbach football coach Marcus George, who’s won six European titles during stops at Fulda, Frankfurt, Hohenfels and Ansbach. “I’ve had athletes with talent, but usually you have to wait a year for them to develop. Jon stepped right in.

“He’s such a great athlete, it sometimes looks like he’s running in slow motion,” George said. “You think he’s loafing out there until you notice that he’s running away from everyone. He does it effortlessly.”

Judging by last Friday’s game, Austin was putting together a bid to become an All-Europe basketball player, according to Marr.

“Last year, because of his jumping ability, Jon played down low,” Marr said. “His outside shot was inconsistent. This year, he’s got a good outside shot, and we’re playing him at point guard.”

Part of his development came at a summer camp in Italy.

“We worked on jump shots every day,” said Austin, who knows the competition will get tougher when he moves to North Carolina.

“With my size, I’m just going to be trying to make the varsity,” Austin said. “Freshmen and sophomores don’t often get to play varsity ball in the States.”

But Marr said Austin has the tools to play at the higher level.

“He’s an outstanding passer,” Marr said. “He has very quick feet and gets by the defense with very little opening. ... He does what every outstanding player does — make the players around him better.”

Although his most success so far has come in football, Austin said basketball is the game he’d like to pursue on the next level.

But he’s not picky.

“I’ll take whatever they give me,” he said. “If I don’t get tall enough, I’ll play football.”

He’s no slouch in the classroom, either.

“When he found out he’d be leaving,” said Ansbach football aide and girls’ basketball coach Mick Plummer, “he came to me and got all the advanced algebra assignments. He’s all caught up. We’ll really miss him.”

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