Isaiah Austin, the former Baylor star whose pro basketball aspirations were interrupted by a life-threatening medical condition, led Loyalty is Love to a win in Friday's opener of The Basketball Tournament.
It was Austin's first professional game in America since he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome prior to the 2014 NBA combine following a stellar career at Baylor. The condition prevented Austin, a potential first-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft, from being medically cleared to play in the league.
Marfan syndrome is a genetic mutation that can affect the functionality of the heart. As a result, Austin had been advised to keep his blood pressure low and avoid high-impact activities.
Logging 19 minutes, 49 seconds, Austin scored 14 points (5-for-8) and recorded three blocks in Loyalty is Love's 107-98 win over the Illinois Hoopville Warriors in the opening round of the TBT in Lexington, Kentucky. He also finished 1-for-3 from the 3-point line and went 3-for-4 from the free throw line.
Maybe the coolest thing from opening night of #TBT2019... @IsaiahAustin's return to hooping in the States! A special moment that we're proud to have been a part of!— TBT (@thetournament) July 20, 2019
Oh yeah, and he reminded everyone that he's still got it! @BaylorMBB pic.twitter.com/zzACIKvBNO
"Couldn't be more happy and excited for him," said Scott Drew, who coached Austin at Baylor, where the 7-foot-1 center averaged 11.2 points and 3.1 blocks per game as a sophomore in the 2013-14 season. "I know what joy it brings to him to play the game that he loves, and to be able to do it on the national stage provides him with a great platform and opportunity to help in the fight against Marfan syndrome."
Two years after his diagnosis, Austin was cleared by his doctors to compete, and he signed his first contract with a professional team in Serbia. Following that stint in Europe, Austin averaged 35 points and 10-plus rebounds per game in the Chinese Basketball Association last season.
Austin is trying to help his team win the $2 million prize in the TBT. Los Angeles Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins is the general manager of the Loyalty is Love team.
Former Big 12 standouts such as Markel Brown, Pierre Jackson and Quincy Miller anchor the squad with Austin, who will win $150,000 if his team wins the tournament.