Iowa freshman forward Xavier Foster dunks the ball in the first half against Kansas State on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.
Few players in the Iowa State basketball program’s recent history had garnered the amount of attention or excitement that Xavier Foster did when he signed with the program as part of the 2020 recruiting cycle.
That excitement slowed a bit for the 7-foot Oskaloosa native when a foot injury that required surgery ended his freshman season after just seven games. Still, most people saw something to build on after the former four-star recruit hit 10-of-16 shots from the field and 3-of-4 attempts from 3-point range in his brief playing time as a rookie.
That building process has to wait at least a while longer, as T.J. Otzelberger revealed on Tuesday that Foster has not been able to practice with the team so far this fall due to undisclosed health issues.
“He hasn’t been available for practice yet due to some medical and health things I probably can’t discuss, unfortunately,” Otzelberger said while discussing the team’s first two weeks of practice.
It is unclear when Foster will be available to return to the court, but, luckily, the program improved its frontcourt depth during Otzelberger’s first offseason in Ames with the additions of Washington State transfer Aljaz Kunc and Denver transfer Robert Jones.
Those two will battle for playing time with returning senior center George Conditt, who bounced back from an up-and-down junior season with the Cyclones by shining for the Puerto Rican national team during Olympic qualifying over the summer.
The process of figuring out how those minutes will shake out is still in its early stages, with more than a month left before Iowa State opens its season against Kennesaw State on Nov. 9.
“We’re really preaching to these guys every day, right now, is an opportunity to earn (minutes),” Otzelberger said. “We had eight weeks in the summer, we had five weeks of fall workouts, and now we’re in week two of practice. We want to continue to foster that competitive environment every day. George’s in the mix on that frontline to have the opportunity to start and earn those minutes. We’ll be open-minded to whoever the guy is, or guys are that do that.”