Injury Won't Derail Faulkner's Career

After coming off the bench and averaging in double figures as a freshman, South Plains (Texas) JUCO power forward Robert Faulkner was on the verge of a breakout in his second season. Unfortunately for Faulkner, a summer knee injury cost him that opportunity, and sent him to the bench during a redshirt season.

However, that same torn ACL won't cost him the chance to continue his career at the next level. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound Robert Faulkner signed on as the fifth Cyclone newcomer for the 2004-05 season, and he should be at full strength by fall.

"He's a power forward in the truest sense of the description," said South Plains coach Steve Green. "He's a hard-playing kid around the glass that's very skilled and can shoot the ball out to about 17 to 18 feet. I think he was on his way to having a banner sophomore season until he blew his ACL out in July. He was probably going to be the top returning junior college player in Texas."

Faulkner only started one game as a freshman, but still averaged 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in a reserve role. The former Peoria (Ill.) Southwoods High School standout figured to inherit a starting role as a sophomore before injuring his knee.

Green only got one season to watch Faulkner play in his system, but is still convinced that his power forward can fit in at the next level.

"He's definitely talented enough," Green said. "He's another in a succession of big junior college players that they've had do well at Iowa State."

Cyclone assistant coach Bob Sundvold began recruiting Faulkner as a high school senior in Illinois, and continued to pursue him after he enrolled at South Plains. Sundvold's persistence and a fall official visit to ISU would eventually convince Faulkner to become a Cyclone.

"He was very thorough in the whole process and stayed in touch with him and us," Green said. "He's seen us play and practice several times. He did a pretty good background study on him going back to Peoria. Iowa State came in early and got him on a visit in the fall. He really liked it.

"Then they kind of monitored his rehab process to see how that was coming along. According to the doctor, he's about 85 percent back and has about three or four months left of rehab. A big plus for Iowa State and him is that he's still got three years left.

Cyclone team doctors also gave Faulkner a thumbs up after checking him out on his visit.

Now it appears the only thing standing between Faulkner and a successful career in the Big 12 is his spending more time in the weight room when healthy.

"It's going to be strength," Green said. "He's going to have to get bigger and stronger to handle the war in the Big 12. He's got everything that somebody wants at that level, but he has to get a little better and everything. He needs to put on around 15 more pounds."

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