Faisal Aden Bounces Back In A Big Way
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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Earlier in the summer as a part of our Seniors Under The Radar series we featured Washington State guard Faisal Aden, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear just as he was named the National Player of the Week and really hitting his stride. At that time Aden was eight weeks removed from his surgery and his future was full of uncertainties.
Now, just two months later, everything has fallen into place for the former Cougar.
“Faisal is doing great,” Doctor Dennis Burke of TMI Sports medicine said to HOOPSWORLD. “He’s worked hard since day one. His right knee is pretty much just like his left. He’s been doing a lot of explosion-type activities for the last couple of months and shown some very good results since he started. He’s been coming in three-to-five times a week and been doing stuff on his own. You can tell he’s striving to get to the level he was at and even top that.
“You have some speed bumps in your life and sometimes in your career and it all depends on how you accept those challenges and use those challenges to overcome that stuff. He’s taken this as a challenge and it’s kind of proven what he’s made of with how hard he’s worked.”
Aden has not been back on the court long as he just received his clearance, but his confidence in his surgically-repaired right knee could not be higher.
“Honestly, it’s better now than before,” Aden said. “It’s so much stronger. My leg’s a lot stronger. My knee doesn’t bother me at all. I’m quicker. I’m explosive. I have lift and it’s improving. I feel like I’ve gotten better just by going through physical therapy, grinding, and going hard just to get back. It’s stronger than it was before the injury.”
While Aden has made a speedy recovery, there’s no denying that this injury did temporarily set him back. He had placed himself on the NBA Draft radar with his play as a senior, but since he was unable to play the final 17 games of the season or work out for teams afterwards, he went undrafted.
“It was tough knowing that I had a great opportunity to be there and have the lights on me, but everything happens for a reason,” Aden said. “I wasn’t down or anything like that. I was more excited knowing that I have the opportunity to prove myself one more time. It was a regular day, but at the same time I wanted to be there. It didn’t bother me too much because I believe in God and everything happens for a reason.”
Just like the injury, the NBA’s lack of interest on draft night was only temporary. Before Aden even received clearance his agent, Adam Pensack of Pensack Sports Management Group, received inquiries from overseas, the D-League, and a few NBA teams.
“The Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors all inquired recently about Faisal and will be following his progress going forward,” Pensack said. “Faisal worked incredibly hard to get back on the court and got cleared less than six months after his surgery due to his commitment and work ethic. He has an incredibly bright future and is going to have a big year in Belgium as he proves that leading the Pac-12 in points per 40 minutes is just the beginning for him.”
Aden will be making his professional debut this upcoming season with Belgium’s Stella Artois Leuven. He’s joining the team this weekend, and while he was thrilled to have NBA teams calling about him, he’s excited to have the opportunity in Belgium to immediately start playing and improving his game.
“I basically just want to be the best player I can possibly be,” Aden said. “I want to reach my full potential. I know how high my ceiling can be and that’s my goal: to just reach the ceiling and to continue to improve myself and be on the best players there. Of course, the NBA is a goal. I don’t just want to be in the NBA. I want to be a contributor, one of the key players on the team. It’s not just being arrogant or anything. It’s how I think, how I feel about my game. That’s the drive I have. I don’t want to settle. I want to be the best possible.”
Although Aden’s relentless work ethic is a major reason why he can now call himself a pro, he’s quick to point out that there are other people who also deserve credit for this accomplishment.
“My family has been there for me,” Aden said. “My aunt, she’s my best friend. She’s done so much for me and my cousin. And, of course, my agent. He’s been great. That guy’s been the best throughout this whole situation.”
With Stella Artois Leuven Aden will be looking to showcase his underrated feel for the game along with his trademark scoring ability. He will be a free agent at the season’s end, giving him the opportunity to achieve his next dream of being an NBA player by the 2013-14 season. There’s no telling what the future holds once again, but Aden’s history certainly proves that he accomplishes what he sets out to do.