By Jeremy Menard
Recently on ESPN Ithaca’s Between the Lines, host Jeremy Menard spoke with recent Trumansburg graduate Austin Grunder. A four-year star of the Blue Raiders boys basketball team, Austin recorded 1,900 career points, the fourth most in Section IV history. He is set to continue his basketball and academic careers at SUNY Cortland. Austin was named ESPN Ithaca’s “Most Outstanding Scholar-Athlete in Boys Basketball” at the station’s annual Night of Champions awards ceremony. Here is a snippet of Jeremy and Austin’s conversation; to hear the full interview, visit ESPN Ithaca’s on-demand PodCenter at ESPNIthaca.com.
Jeremy Menard: What does it mean to you, to have achieved all that you have as a student at T’burg, as a member of the Blue Raiders?
Austin Grunder: It means a lot to me. It shows me that all of the hard work that I’ve put into the classroom and all of that hard work that I’ve put in for my basketball career. It shows that hard work does pay off. For anybody that’s going to come on in the later years, if you work hard at something and you pursue your dreams, then most likely they can follow through with it.
JM: What did that hard work look like? If someone wants to be the next Austin Grunder, give an idea of the type of hard work that goes into it.
AG: I’d say just, I mean I have a basketball court at home that I was just constantly shooting outside, working on my ball handling and just studying film of different players, whether it be Kobe (Bryant), LeBron (James) or Michael Jordan, just seeing what moves I can put into my game to see if I can be one of them. It’s just constant hard work in the weight room, outside shooting and constantly having a ball in my hand.
JM: You mentioned watching some of the NBA guys. What was your take on the Finals, Golden State and Cavs?
AG: I think the Cavs and LeBron did the best they could, just the Warriors are too strong for many of the teams out there. Especially with KD (Kevin Durant) playing the way he did. They’re going to be a hard team to beat and they have the potential to win at least four or five in a row if they keep the team the way it is.
JM: Obviously you’re a big basketball player, you love playing the game. How big of a fan are you? How closely do you follow college hoops and follow the NBA?
AG: I’m a huge fan. That’s probably where I fell in love with it the most, starting as a young kid just watching college and watching NBA. I watch it almost every day. I mean, for basketball practice when I was in high school, I’d go to basketball practice, eat dinner and then usually around that time it was college basketball, whether it was “Big Monday” or “Super Tuesday.” I mean, I’ve always watched basketball throughout my life.
JM: What are your teams, who do you follow?
AG: College, I like Syracuse. I’m just the hometown kid watching Syracuse. I’ve liked them for years. For NBA, I like the Cavaliers.
JM: When you’re recognized and all of your achievements are brought up just like at Night of Champions, 1,900 career points, 646 as a senior, a 32.3 points per game average this year. What stat are you most proud of from your career?
AG: I’d probably say the 1,900 points. I mean, that’s a lot of points for four years in high school. It’s important to get to 1,000 point club and that’s a remarkable accomplishment for anybody who hits that. Almost at 2,000 which I was striving for, I think that’s pretty incredible. I don’t think a lot of many players, especially around here, will get close to that. Looking at the old-time players getting 2,000 before there was a three-point line, I mean I think that’s just ridiculous. That shows just how good of players they were.
JM: 1,900 points, fourth most in Section IV history. Here’s a really tough question. What basket sticks out in your mind the most? A lot to choose from.
AG: I’d say, sophomore year when we were playing against Dryden. I hit a three to put us up by four. I’m pretty sure. I think there was like a minute and a half left and it extended our lead to four and then we ended up winning that game by five I think. That was probably the biggest and most clutch basket I’ve ever had. Or against Seton Catholic in the Lansing tournament where I hit a three to force it into overtime. Then (Hunter) Ford hit a three in overtime to win it for us.
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Listen to Between the Lines with Jeremy Menard from 4-5 p.m. weekdays on ESPN Ithaca (1160 AM/107.1 FM) and ESPNIthaca.com.