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Isaiah Austin facing down disorder to follow hoop dream in Taiwan

2017/12/06 16:55:21

Photo courtesy of Yulon Luxgen Dinos

Taipei, Dec. 6 (CNA) Isaiah Austin, an American professional basketball player diagnosed with a genetic disorder that prevented him from playing in the National Basketball Association (NBA), has recently joined a basketball team in Taiwan to pursue his hoop dream.

The New Taipei-based Yulon Luxgen Dinos, one of seven teams in Taiwan's professional Super Basketball League (SBL), reached a deal with the 24-year-old on Nov. 8 for the league's 15th season that opened on Dec. 2.

The 7-foot-1 Austin was a college all-star at Baylor University and thought to be a likely first-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft until he was diagnosed just days before the draft with Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the heart.

Though his playing career was over, at least temporarily, Austin still had his name called as a ceremonial pick midway through the first round at the NBA draft in June 2014 and presented with an NBA cap by Commissioner Adam Silver.

Austin was also blind in his right eye from a previous injury while doing a dunk in middle school, but it was the Marfan Syndrome diagnosis that kept him out of the game.

He was cleared to once again play basketball in November 2016 after his condition was found to have stabilized, however, and he signed and played with a team in Serbia early this year.

He then joined China's second-tier pro basketball league -- the National Basketball League -- over the summer, averaging 34.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 4.3 blocks with the Guangxi Rhinos in 16 games.

In two games with the Dinos so far this season, he has averaged 15 points, 13 rebounds and 3 assists.

During a previous interview with local media on Nov. 16, Austin said he believed he was perfectly suited to the style of basketball played in Asia.

"I thought this type of basketball is my type of game. I definitely came here so that I can flourish," he said.

He also described himself as a force at both ends of the floor.

"I can score from anywhere so I'm always a mismatch problem for any team. I'm going to do anything on the court to make my team win," he said in the Nov. 16 interview with Videoland Sports Channel.

Dinos head coach Wei Yung-tai (魏永泰) gave high praise to the young player during a recent interview with CNA.

"He never misses any practices and runs as fast as he can on fast breaks," Wei said.

Austin also has a great shooting touch for a big man like him, Wei said, firmly believing that "he will only get better."

(By Joseph Yeh)