Isaiah Austin

And-Ones: Bazley, Superstars, Austin, Nike Academy

Thunder rookie Darius Bazley is ready for the challenges he’ll face in the NBA after taking a unique path to the league, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes.

Bazley, 19, was selected with the No. 23 pick in June’s draft by Utah and traded to Oklahoma City that night. Before getting drafted, he opted to skip college and pursue a potential path to the NBA by way of the G League, later skipping this route and focusing on improving his business knowledge and skills.

He would sign an endorsement deal with New Balance, which included a one-year internship with the company.

“You get some people here and there they’ll just ask you about it, ‘Yo, like how was it not going to college?'” Bazley said, as relayed by Friedell. “I know when I was going through the whole pre-draft process traveling from team to team before we’d go out and work out, [the other players would] all be talking about college. And someone would pop up and say, ‘Well, how was it, just sitting out?'”

Bazley immersed himself in the business side of New Balance, Friedell wrote, working diligently with the company when he wasn’t practicing at the facility to prepare for an eventual move to the draft.

“The main thing I really took away from that is just learning how to be professional,” he said. “That was my first job ever so having to go into work and being in an office space with a lot of middle-aged people — you got to learn to be professional. You got to learn to communicate with different people.”

For Bazley, a two-way forward with great potential on a Thunder team that currently lacks wing depth, his sights are now set on bringing values learned over the past year to his first NBA season this fall.

“His ability to handle the ball at his size is really, really unique, and defensively he’s got great range for a young player at that size, as well,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said. “It’s going to be a process with him. We’ll have to be patient. We understand that. But at that range of the draft, to be able to get a player that has those ballhandling skills at 6-foot-9 is pretty unique.”

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world tonight:

  • Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated explores the seven NBA stars with the most to prove during the 2019/20 season. Nadkarni’s list includes both LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the top three, with both players eager to prove they can win in Los Angeles.
  • Former Baylor center Isaiah Austin has signed in Lebanon with Beirut Club, the team announced on social media. Austin, who was projected as a first-round pick in 2014, was forced to spend two years away from the game after being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome. The 25-year-old has since held separate stints in Serbia, China and Lebanon.
  • Jonathon Givony of ESPN.com lists his takeaways from the Nike Basketball Academy, which included nearly 60 future NBA prospects (24 from college, 32 from high school). NBA players such as DeMar DeRozan, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker also joined in on drills and scrimmages throughout the process, according to Givony.

International Notes: Webb, Wilson, Patterson, Austin

Former Nets forward James Webb III has officially signed a one-year contract with Germany’s Telekom Baskets Bonn, according to a Sportando report. Webb reportedly had an agreement to play in Italy earlier in August but it fell through. Webb played 10 games with Brooklyn last season after signing a two-way deal in January. He also played 19 games for the Long Island Nets in the G League, averaging 14.3 PPG and 6.6 RPG, after starting his NBA career in 2016 with the Sixers’ G league affiliate.

We have more news from overseas:

  • Ex-Clippers forward Jamil Wilson has received interest from Italy’s Fiat Torino but the two parties are not close to an agreement, according to another Sportando post. Wilson appeared in 15 games on a two-way contract with the Clippers last season, including 10 starts, and averaged 7.0 PPG in 18.3 MPG. He was waived in January and eventually wound up with the Pacers’ G League team in Fort Wayne, Ind. before signing with Italy’s Serie A team, Virtus Bologna.
  • Center Isaiah Austin, who has been medically barred from playing in NBA, is posting big numbers in China, as Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report details. The 7’1” Austin, who has Marfan syndrome, is averaging 35.1 PPG,  10.3 RPG, 1.8 BPG for Guangxi in the Chinese National Basketball League. “I’m in really good shape, which is why it’s really hurtful that people won’t give me an opportunity,” he told Sefkowitz. However, it’s unlikely the NBA will ever give him the green light to play, as Kurt Helin of NBC Sports notes.
  • Former Hawks guard Lamar Patterson is close to an agreement with Australia’s Melbourne United, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. Patterson, the 48th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, spent his first professional season in Turkey before joining Atlanta for the 2015/16 campaign. In parts of two NBA seasons, the former Pitt standout appeared in 40 games, averaging 2.3 PPG and 1.4 RPG in limited minutes. He played in Italy and China last season.

International Notes: Marbury, Randolph, Austin, Vesely, Goudelock, Griffin

Two-time NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury will reportedly sign with the Chinese Basketball Association’s Beikong Fly Dragons, reports international basketball journalist David Pick (link via Twitter). This will be Starbury’s ninth season playing in China.

Marbury had played for the Beijing Ducks since 2011, but is now set to join his fourth different Chinese team. Since coming over to China, the star point guard has won three CBA championships, made six all-star teams, and been named both a CBA Foreign MVP and a CBA Finals MVP.

What else do you need to know from the international basketball scene?:

  • Former NBA player Shavlik Randolph will be joining Marbury with the Fly Dragons, as he has signed a contract with Beikong, tweets 247 Basketball  (link via Sportando).
  • Former NBA prospect Isaiah Austin has also signed with a Chinese team, the Guanxi Rhinos, reports David Pick (Twitter link). The Rhinos play in the National Basketball League, which is the second-tier league to the Chinese Basketball Association. In November of 2016, Austin was medically cleared to return to basketball after his career had been on hold due to Marfan syndrome.
  • Three-year NBA veteran Jan Vesely is close to making a final decision that will keep him playing in Turkey despite NBA interest in him this offseason, according to Nikos Varlas of EuroHoops.net.
  • Former Lakers guard Andrew Goudelock announced on Twitter that he will be joining Olimpia Milano for next season, via Sportando. As first reported by EuroHoops, the deal is expected to be for two years.
  • Eric Griffin might opt out of his deal with the Italian team, Pallacanestro Cantù, as a result of the significant interest he is receiving from several NBA teams, including the Jazz, according to David Pick (Twitter link). Last season, Griffin was an Israeli Premier League All-Star.

And-Ones: Rockets, Sacre, Austin

The Rockets will make a bid to host the All-Star Game writes Jonathan Feigen on the Houston Chronicle and are preparing to make their case for either the 2020 or 2021 festivities.

Just recently, Feigen writes, the league sent the Rockets and other select teams information related to the bidding process. The team ultimately granted the privilege to host the week-long celebration will set out to make the most out of an excellent economic opportunity.

In 2013, the last time the Rockets hosted the event, the game generated roughly $60MM in direct spending and a near $100MM economic impact. The city of Houston also hosted All-Star Weekend in 2006 and 1989.

There’s more news from the NBA world today:

And-Ones: Austin, Facebook, Postponement, Oriakhi

Former Baylor standout Isaiah Austin, whose NBA dreams were derailed by health problems, has signed his first professional contract, tweets international journalist David Pick. Austin will join Red Star Belgrade affiliate FMP in the Adriatic League. He was considered to be a late first-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft before being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome. Austin received medical clearance to play again in late November. “He was told he’d never get a chance to play again, so he’s thrilled to get on the court,” said Austin’s agent, Dwon Clifton. “His talent is there; he hasn’t lost it; he loves the game.” (Twitter link).

There’s more basketball news to pass on tonight:

  • The NBA is preparing to stream its first game on Facebook, although it will only be available in India, the league announced on its website. The Kings will host the Warriors Sunday in the team’s fourth annual Bollywood Night, which features a celebration of Indian culture. It will be streamed to India on the Facebook pages of the NBA and both teams. “We are always looking for ways to utilize technology for opportunities to connect with our diverse group of fans throughout the world and are thrilled to engage with our followers in India tomorrow night,” said Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts.
  • Tonight’s game between the Pistons and Trail Blazers was postponed because of severe weather conditions in Portland, according to a league statement. It will be made up Sunday night.
  • Alex Oriakhi, whose rights are owned by the Kings, has signed to play in Mexico, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The 6’9″ forward began the season in Turkey. His rights were acquired in the 2014 deal that sent Isaiah Thomas to Phoenix.

And-Ones: I. Austin, Sims, B. Paul, 2017 Draft

Former Baylor standout Isaiah Austin was recently cleared to play basketball again, after having his NBA hopes initially derailed when he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue. Still, although Austin is free to sign anywhere, executives are generally taking a “relaxed approach” to his planned comeback, writes Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Austin was viewed as a borderline first-round prospect back in 2014, and some executives around the NBA are approaching his reported medical clearance with caution.

“What reversed the decision?” one NBA general manager said to Howard-Cooper. “How did it come to be that now he can play? We don’t even know how. Yeah, that’s what I’d be curious about. I’m not saying [Austin found a single doctor willing to clear him], but I’ve seen this before. You can find someone to tell you that you can play. Somebody will.”

As Howard-Cooper details, another GM suggested that teams wouldn’t rush to look into Austin’s situation, but added that those teams may be intrigued: “I’ve never heard anybody (in the NBA) talk about any skepticism on that because I don’t think he’s on people’s radar like that. I don’t think there’s a buzz like, ‘Whoa, now he’s been declared healthy. Is he really healthy?’ I don’t think people are looking at it that way. I think people are more ‘OK, that’s interesting.’ I can see maybe someone trying to do a feel-good story, liking a little bump from a PR standpoint. Maybe someone does a short-term contract with him and brings him in.”

As we wait to see Austin can land a basketball contract, perhaps in the D-League or elsewhere, let’s check in on a few other odds and ends…

  • The NBA D-League has accepted a buyout of Henry Sims‘ contract, as well as Quincy Douby‘s deal, reports Adam Johnson of D-League Digest (Twitter links). It’s not yet clear what the next step is for either former NBA player, but they may end up heading overseas.
  • One player heading overseas is swingman Brandon Paul, who was in camp with the Sixers this fall. As Emiliano Carchia of Sportando writes, Turkish club Anadolu Efes Istanbul has agreed to a deal with Paul to replace Bryce Cotton on its roster.
  • In a piece for Basketball Insiders, Michael Scotto takes an early look at next year’s potential draft class, exploring whether we might see three Kentucky freshman come of the board as 2017 lottery picks. As Scotto outlines, Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox, and Edrice Adebayo could become the Wildcats’ third trio since 2010 to achieve that feat.

Isaiah Austin Cleared To Play Basketball Again

Former Baylor star Isaiah Austin has been medically cleared to play basketball and is considering offers overseas, writes Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog. Austin declared for the NBA draft after his sophomore season, but his career was derailed when doctors discovered he had Marfan syndrome, a disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue.

Austin announced the news in a video on his Instagram account, saying, “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 am stable.”

Austin, now 23, was considered to be a late first-round pick in 2014 after averaging 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game in his final season at Baylor. His condition was discovered at the NBA combine, according to ESPN.com. The first sign of trouble was an electrocardiogram test that showed an abnormality in his heart. Further genetic tests confirmed that he had Marfan syndrome.

Austin learned of the diagnosis days before the draft and was told he could not safely continue to play basketball. NBA commissioner Adam Silver called him up to the dais and made him a ceremonial pick.

“I am cleared,” Austin announced in the Instagram video. “I am about to be out here pursuing my dream. Ever since my doctors told me that I was cleared, it’s been in my mind — I want to go chase this. It’s always been my dream. At the same time, I’m a God-faring man, and I believe that everything happens in life for a reason, so why would God put it in my doctor’s heart to say that I was cleared if he didn’t want me to go and chase my dream and share my testimony with millions of people around the world.”

Austin Diagnosed With Career-Ending Condition

Baylor center Isaiah Austin, once considered a first round prospect in this year’s draft, has been diagnosed with a career-ending condition, according to a press release published on Baylor University’s website.

Austin was set to make history as the first player with partial blindness to make it to the NBA.  Now that he has been diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic mutation, the center will instead focus his efforts on living a healthy and productive life.

This is devastating news, but Isaiah has the best support system anyone could ask for, and he knows that all of Baylor Nation is behind him,” head coach Scott Drew said. “His health is the most important thing, and while it’s extremely sad that he won’t be able to play in the NBA, our hope is that he’ll return to Baylor to complete his degree and serve as a coach in our program.”

Marfan syndrome can leads to problems in connective tissues throughout the body and results in aortic enlargement, which can be life-threatening.  Baylor went a combined 49-26 during Austin’s two years on campus, winning the 2013 NIT Championship and advancing to the 2014 NCAA Sweet 16.  Hoops Rumors wishes nothing but the best to Austin in all of his future endeavors, both in and out of basketball.

Draft Notes: Embiid, Exum, McDermott, Stauskas

Joel Embiid has suffered a right foot injury, reports Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, and there’s fear that it’s broken, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The Cavs discovered the injury during his physical exam with the team, it’s prompted Cleveland to want to work out Dante Exum, Wojnarowski says (Twitter link). Agent Arn Tellem tells fellow ESPN scribe Chad Ford that Embiid probably won’t be doing any more workouts before the draft (Twitter link). He was to have auditioned for the Bucks later this week, Goodman notes on Twitter, though the Bucks haven’t heard from Embiid’s camp about whether the workout is canceled or not, according to TNT’s David Aldridge (on Twitter).  Tellem told Andy Katz of ESPN.com that he’ll know more about the injury on Friday, as Goodman notes in his piece, so while the top of the draft hinges on tomorrow’s news on Embiid’s foot, here’s more on the wider field of prospects:

  • Representatives from the Kings, Nuggets, Wolves and Warriors observed Doug McDermott and Nik Stauskas work out Wednesday in Chicago, Ford tweets.
  • C.J. Fair will audition Monday for the Mavericks, reports Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link).
  • The Magic are bringing Kendrick Perry in for a second workout, reports David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). Perry will also audition Saturday for the Wolves, along with Roscoe Smith, Joe Jackson and Taylor Braun, tweets Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.
  • Isaiah Austin, Aaron Craft, T.J. Bray, Eric Moreland and Daniel Miller are the previously unreported prospects who are showing off for the Raptors today, the team announced via press release. Austin is fresh off an audition on Wednesday for the Clippers, according to Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link).
  • Jabari Brown, Markel Brown, Devin Oliver, Khyle Marshall and Xavier Munford are among those working out for the Celtics today, notes Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Oliver reportedly auditioned for the Celtics last week, too.
  • The Kings will audition Michael Dixon on Monday, Scotto tweets.

Draft Rumors: Bucks, Parker Exum, Randle

There’s no truth to the that idea Bucks GM John Hammond would be reluctant to draft Dante Exum because he’s concerned about losing his job, a source tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. It’s not clear whether Milwaukee, which picks second overall, is sold on taking the Australian guard, but the team won’t hesitate to do so if the front office determines he’s worthy, Deveney’s source adds. Here’s more chatter surrounding the draft:

  • Jabari Parker will work out for the Cavs a week from today, the Plain Dealer reports (on Twitter). The tweet also makes note of Andrew Wiggins‘ audition for the team next week, echoing an earlier report that he was set to work out for the club close to draft time.

Earlier updates:

  • Julius Randle said today that no NBA teams expressed a desire at last month’s draft combine for him to have surgery on his right foot even though they knew that he’d broken the foot as a high school senior, observes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com (on Twitter). Still, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com insists multiple clubs are worried about the foot becoming an issue in the future, believing that the foot didn’t heal correctly (Twitter link). However, the Jazz aren’t among the teams with worries, tweets Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune.
  • Randle is nonetheless taking a cautious approach, telling reporters, including Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com, that he worked out solo for the Celtics instead of against competition to lessen the chance of injury. Gary Harris, Jordan Clarkson and Elfrid Payton are the previously unreported names taking part in today’s group audition for the Celtics, Forsberg tweets.
  • Baylor big man Isaiah Austin was red-flagged with several medical issues at last month’s draft combine, as Chad Ford of ESPN.com reports in an Insider-only piece. Austin’s lack of sight in one eye is well-documented, but it appears as though that isn’t his only malady.
  • Doug McDermott is the marquee name set to perform Saturday for the Hornets, who’ll also audition T.J. Warren, Travis Wear, Jermaine Marshall, Roberto Nelson and Brandon Young, the team announced in a press release.
  • Zach LaVine is set to work out Saturday for the Nuggets, Blakely tweets.
  • Shabazz Napier highlighted a Wolves audition today that also included LaQuinton Ross, Eric Moreland, Ronald Roberts Jr., Tim Frazier and Rion Brown, the team announced (via Twitter). Adreian Payne will show off for Minnesota on Saturday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.