High-scoring Frank a boost for third-ranked Magicians

Austin Frank’s diminutive frame has never really conveyed the Minot High guard’s capability.

Generously listed at 5-foot-11, Frank, who weighs about 150 pounds soaking wet, doesn’t sport the look of a floor general.

In a West Region littered with lengthy guards, he wouldn’t get a second glance from your average onlooker.

But Frank, who’s averaging 13.5 points and four assists for the third-ranked Magicians, happens to be one of the premier guards in North Dakota – and a respected leader, to boot.

He’s embraced the initial oversight, though. If anything, it’s worked in his favor.

“When people first see me they probably think, ‘He’s short and can’t be that good'”, said Frank, an all-West Region selection last season. “But I kind of like that.””

Whether it’s his propensity for creating space, a swift release from behind the arc or impressive court vision, Frank’s been able to overcome the undersized tag.

Considering what’s he’s endured the last two years, however, lack of size wasn’t even in the realm of obstacles.

Frank’s family, who lived just three blocks from Minot coach Dean Winczewski, wasn’t immune to the Souris River flood of 2011.

The summer entering his junior year, Frank – like a handful of Minot residents – found himself without a home.

Winczewksi had developed a relationship with Frank’s family and saw the hardship first-hand.

“High school is crazy enough for a kid,” Winczewski said. “But to not even have a house, that’s really tough.

A couple months later Frank had earned substantial playing time as a defensive back and receiver for the Minot football team.

A shoulder injury halted his short-lived football career. A fitting end to his trying calendar year.

A basketball purist, those trials didn’t weigh on him the way a recent suspension did.

In late November, at the tip of this season, Frank dealt with his first bout of trouble after committing a training violation.

Winczewki doled out a three-game suspension as punishment.

Frank could just look on in agony during his team’s first three games, champing at the bit to get back on the floor.

“That was a huge heartbreaker for me,” Frank said. “I let down my team. I never thought something like that would happen.”

His play upon return about atoned for the early-December absence.

Frank slid right into Minot’s deep lineup almost seamlessly, putting up double figures from the start.

The three-year letterman picked right up from his breakout junior season, where he connected on 58 3s and averaged 12.5 points and 2.8 assists.

He finds the biggest thrill in finding the high-percentage shot, even if he isn’t pulling the trigger.

“I like getting people open shots the most,” Frank said. “I love feeding the post. If we can get a shot from just two-feet away, that’s good.”

Fellow senior mainstay Brandon Van Dusen has been one of the few beneficiaries of Frank’s play.

“He’s a very exciting player and makes his teammates better,” Van Dusen said. “You rarely see him lose his dribble coming up the court. He’s so low they can’t take it from him.”

Wincewski thinks he gets teammates a little too involved at times.

“He’s really unselfish, probably been too unselfish at times,” Winczewski said.

While Frank’s been filling the nets the last two seasons at the prep level, his recruiting interest is scarce.

Measurables hold more weight at the college level and Frank has yet to receive on offer. But he hasn’t ruled out continuing his career.

If a scholarship from a small college surfaced, Frank would likely go in that direction.

If not, the 3.0 student will pursue a Business Administration degree from UND or NDSU.

“If I get a scholarship, I’ll play,” Frank said. “If not I’ll just focus on school and maybe try and walk-on (at NDSU or UND).”

Post high school endeavors are the farthest thing from his mind now.

Coming off the bench as a sophomore, Minot lost both of its games at the 2011 Class A state tournament. It went just 1-2 last year.

Having seen what big-school North Dakota hoops has to offer, Frank believes this group has the means to claim a state title.

“The goal is to win state,” Frank said. “We have a great chance of doing that if we keep improving.”