Catching up with Reid Forgrave

BearsIllustrated spoke with Reid Forgrave, a National College basketball writer for FOXSports.com. Reid had a great piece on Isaiah Austin to we got some more details.

With the news of Isaiah Austin's NBA career ending due to a diagnosis of Marfan Syndrome receiving national attention, many articles have been written about Austin's attitude and spirits after this latest setback.

We spoke with Reid Forgrave, a national columnist with FOXSports.com who had a great article on Austin and his family. Forgrave spoke with Austin and his inner circle about the very difficult day that started off as a celebration. This was a happy time, as two NBA teams had told him that they would choose him in the draft if he was still available, though Austin did not share where that was. The longest player in the draft with great shot-blocking ability and a developing offensive game that would help him earn a spot in the NBA, fulfilling that life-long dream.

With the diagnosis of Marfan syndrome though, some of the negatives that had plagued Austin in his development started to look a bit more ominous. According to The Marfan Foundation, Marfan syndrome is genetic disorder that affects the body's connective tissue. What that means is those connective tissues cannot hold your body together well.

Common symptoms of Marfan include long arms, legs and fingers with a tall and thin body type. Another common symptom is eye issues, generally involving detached retinas. Weight gain and strength is also more difficult. Looking back at the scouting report on Austin looks more like a symptom list than basketball weakness now. The major issue however deals with the heart. A weakened Aorta is very common with Marfan, and that is the primary reason why Isaiah Austin will not be playing professional basketball.

Below is the rest of the chat between BearsIllustrated and Reid Forgrave:

BearsIllustrated (BI) - Austin has said he wants to go back to school, anything said if he was coming back to Baylor to continue his education there, or possibly start his coaching career?

Reid Forgrave (RF) - That's a distinct possibility. He said he wants to finish college, and one would assume that's at Baylor, where he's made a home.

BI - It appears Austin has started his own site and has some merchandise with a "Dream. Again" motto. Did you guys speak about that at all?

RF - Didn't speak about the merchandise thing; I had no idea. (I did hear from his mom and his agent that he did have insurance on his basketball career; they are working through specifics now to see if the disease is covered.) He's a savvy, smart young man, so I'm not surprised he's making the most of this opportunity.

BI - Where did Austin see himself falling in the draft (obviously before the diagnosis)? Was he being told he was a 1st rounder or 2nd rounder?

RF - He told me there were two teams that said they would draft him if he was still available, but didn't go into whether that was first round or second. My best guess is that he would have been an early second-rounder with an outside (but not unrealistic) shot at getting taken late in the second round. At Baylor you know as well as anyone the immense potential Austin has, but the frustrations he's had as well. He was the longest guy in this draft, a dynamite shot-blocker who was very skilled for a seven-footer.

But he's struggled adding weight -- something that was at least partially because his shoulder injury a year ago affected his offseason weight training, but it was undeniably an issue NBA teams were concerned about. The NBA draft is all about potential, though, so you better believe a team would take a flier on his enormous potential.

BI - Anything else that our readers might want to know?

RF - I've always been impressed by Austin's poise and his maturity. He's a good kid, and I'm not surprised that his reaction when his NBA dream was shattered was, yes, disappointment, but also looking for the positive. His mother said it best, I thought: When he dealt with blindness in one eye at age 16, she told him this can be your excuse, or this can be your story. His mother is preaching the same thing to him with the diagnosis of Marfan syndrome. That's why Isaiah's reaction is so positive and forward-looking. He's bummed, but he's also embracing his new reality.


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