The Baylor athletic department shared sad news today that draft-eligible sophomore center Isaiah Austin will no longer continue his basketball career due to a medical issue discovered during pre-draft genetic testing. According to The Marfan Foundation, Marfan syndrome is a condition that causes problems with the body's production of protein and leads to issues in connective tissues. Among many complications, the primary problem as related to basketball is that the mutated protein causes enlargement of the heart which makes playing competitive basketball potentially fatal.
The immediate plans for Austin have not been announced beyond him no longer pursuing a basketball career. Baylor head coach Scott Drew has extended hope for Austin to "return to Baylor to complete his degree and serve as a coach in our program." Prior to today's announcement, Austin was expected to be taken in the early to middle part of the second round in the NBA Draft on Thursday night. A dominant shot blocker with an above average outside shot, the 7-footer had already overcome blindness in one eye due to a detached retina. He had masked the blindness so well that schools did not know about his condition while recruiting them. The limitation in his depth perception and a 220-pound frame were all that held Austin back from being a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Austin was ranked higher on most boards than his #56 ranking on the Peachtree Hoops Draft Board. Despite reservations about his ability to translate his slight frame to the professional level, Austin is a well-spoken young man whose resiliency is to be admired. Best wishes to him for a long and full life beyond his playing career.