Former Baylor big man Isaiah Austin has been medically cleared to play basketball. The announcement comes over two years after he was among the prospects expected to go to a pro team in the 2014 NBA Draft. However, sad news came during his attempts to make the professional basketball league when it was deemed he was unable to participate due to a medical condition. He was honored on stage during the draft and even offered a job with the NBA in a different capacity. Now it appears he can pursue his original dream job after a doctor deemed him fit to do so.
According to SB Nation in their report, Austin originally declared for the NBA Draft at age 23, and at that time had left Baylor as a sophomore. The 7-foot-1 center put up stats of 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.1 blocked shots per game. He was also selected as a member of the 2014 Big 12 All-Defensive Team. When Austin declared himself eligible for the draft, he was projected to be taken by a team in the mid-to-late first round. However, a serious medical condition seemingly cut his attempts at an NBA career short.
Austin was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder of the body’s connective tissue. The syndrome generally causes people with it to lack strength in their connective tissue due to abnormal chemical makeup. It typically affects 1 in 5,000 Americans, according to WebMD, and poses a serious threat to the aorta. Due to Austin’s diagnosis with this syndrome, he was told he could not play in the NBA with the condition affecting him.
In an honorary act by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Austin was drafted to the NBA itself between the No. 15 and No. 16 picks of the 2014 draft. He was told he could have a job with the league, but it wouldn’t involve playing basketball for any of the teams. With that said, it’s now two years later and things have changed for the better.
Austin has said he is now medically cleared to play the sport he loves. The big announcement was made Wednesday via his Instagram account.
Austin also appeared in a Thru The Lens interview on YouTube with Cassy Athena. The clip runs over six minutes and discusses the background behind Austin’s situation with being unable to play in the league, his foundation, and the great news that he can officially play again. Austin mentions he’s been monitored regularly over the past two years or so, and that the doctor said he was “stable.” The 7-foot-1 also mentions that he’s been working out a little bit since.
So where does he go from here? While some might speculate he’ll immediately find his way onto an NBA team, that may or may not be the case. It’s always possible, but he may go the route of playing overseas for a bit to develop his craft. In an NBA situation, he could get signed by a team and assigned to an NBA Developmental League team where he can prepare himself for the pro game.
While the health condition sounds like much less of a risk than it was before, NBA teams will probably still tread with some caution. According to Fox Sports, Austin has also dealt with vision problems as he’s suffered from a detached retina in his right eye since age 16. That has caused blindness which also required a number of surgeries to address.
Even so, it’s hard to argue against the mere fact that many NBA teams are in need of help inside the paint these days. Just having a seven footer in there to rebound and defend is enough for many teams. If he is able to improve on his scoring abilities, that’s even better. The best part of it all, though, is that despite being told he couldn’t pursue his passion, Isaiah Austin getting medically cleared makes a strong case to always keep pursuing those dreams.
[Featured Image by Mike Stobe/Getty Images]