Former Baylor Big Man Isaiah Austin Cleared to Play Basketball Again
Isaiah Austin, whose NBA career was derailed before it began because of a rare genetic disorder that affects his heart, has been cleared to play basketball again and is mulling several overseas offers.
“He is weighing through his offers,” a source told ZAGSBLOG. “He’s had [overseas] offers as teams were waiting for medical clearance.”
The former Baylor center, who left school after his sophomore season to enter the 2014 NBA Draft, was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, which affects the body’s connective tissue.
According to the Mayo Clinic, complications from Marfan syndrome can weaken the aorta, the artery that supplies blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
But Austin announced on Wednesday that he was cleared.
“Ever since the Draft I’ve been getting checked by my doctor and through those checkups, we’ve been monitoring my heart, making sure that nothing has changed and he said that I’m stable,” he said. “I am cleared. I am about to be out here pursuing my dream.”
The 7-foot-1 center declared for the draft after his sophomore season, in which he averaged 11.2 points and 5.5 rebounds on a Baylor team that reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Wisconsin, a Final Four qualifier.
During his final season with the Bears, Austin revealed that he had a prosthetic right eye after multiple operations couldn’t repair a detached retina. The eye was damaged when a previous injury was aggravated doing a routine dunk before a middle school game.is scoring and rebounding averages dropped in his final season, though he started 72 of 73 games for the Bears.
He was invited to the 2014 NBA Draft by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and made an appearance on the stage even though he was not chosen by a team.
“With the next pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the NBA selects Isaiah Austin from Baylor University,” Silver declared to a huge ovation.
(The AP contributed; Photo: USA Today Sports)
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.