HEALTH ISSUES HAVE never held Isaiah Austin back for long. In middle school he suffered spontaneous retinal detachment, which left him blind in his right eye. Still, he became a consensus top five recruit at Grace Preparatory Academy in Arlington, Texas. After his freshman season at Baylor in 2012--13, he hoped to declare for the NBA draft, but he tore cartilage in his right shoulder and returned to school. Finally, after averaging 11.2 points and 3.1 blocks as a sophomore in 2013--14, he was poised to be a first-round pick, but four days before the draft, he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that could have caused the abnormally large arteries in his heart to rupture on the court.
Now Austin is ready for his next comeback. Cleared to play again in July by his physician, who considered his situation to have stabilized, he has been training this fall. Pro teams are sure to be skeptical, but if Austin, 23, is truly at no risk, it's likely that one will give a 7'1" center another chance.