Basketball Hapoel J'lem Inks Forward Austin

Hapoel Jerusalem signed forward Mario Austin yesterday. The 23-year-old Austin is the third foreign player to be signed by the team this summer.

The sides agreed to terms over a week ago, but Austin prefered to wait for an offer from the NBA before signing with Hapoel.

Austin, a 2.06-meter power forward, played for Italian Serie B outfit Biella last year, where he averaged 16.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in 34.5 minutes per game.

After playing three years at Mississippi State, Austin was picked by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 2003 NBA draft. Subsequently he signed with CSKA Moscow, but failed to acclimatize in the Russian capital and returned to the United States to play in the WBA league, where he was voted league MVP.

"Austin is a very talented young player," Hapoel coach Erez Edelstein said. "He can play at power forward or center, and will join Ido Kozikaro and Erez Markovich."