AT 23, Isaiah Austin has already been through enough experiences to fill a book – and the latest chapter begins on Friday when he suits up under the Philippines flag for the first time.
The big man from California, whose NBA dream was put on hold when he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome in 2014, is back playing again after receiving the all-clear.
A projected first-round draft pick in 2014, Austin is rebuilding his career away from the United States.
He first resurfaced at FMP in Serbia earlier this year, before a brief stint with Guangxi Rhinos in China.
He is now bidding to become Philippines’ naturalised player, and will line up for Chooks-to-Go at the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in China.
Chooks-to-Go were a late addition to the competition when Japanese side Shibuya Sunrockers withdrew.
After more than two years away from basketball, the tournament – in which Austin could come up against Andray Blatche – is an ideal shop window for the 7ft 1in centre.
And one prominent NBA commentator hopes to see Austin finally fulfil his long-held ambition of making it to the world’s best basketball league.
Kevin O’Connor, from The Ringer, listed the former Baylor star as a player he would like to see suit up in the NBA one day.
Asked by host Chris Vernon on the latest episode of The Ringer NBA Show podcast which players he would like to see return to the NBA, amid rumours Stephon Marbury is eyeing a comeback, O’Connor had an interesting take.
After listing Ekpe Udoh, Anthony Randolph, Ray Allen and Glen Davis, he turned his focus on the 23-year-old.
“It’s not really a comeback to the NBA, because he didn’t play, but he’s a guy who didn’t really get the chance to be an NBA player: Isaiah Austin,” said O’Connor.
“He had the heart condition a couple of years back. People will remember he was at the NBA draft and was honoured for that.
“Right now, he’s playing overseas. I hope he gets the opportunity, even just to sign with a G League (the NBA’s minor league) team.
“To get a chance to really be back in the NBA pipeline would be nice to see. He’s a great kid and a good talent too.”