USC five-star freshman Vince Iwuchukwu sidelined indefinitely after suffering cardiac arrest this summer

NCAA Basketball

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USC Athletics

On July 1, highly touted USC freshman basketball player Vince Iwuchukwu suffered major heart failure and collapsed during an informal team practice, he told CBS Sports. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was hospitalized for a few days.  

“This past summer I had a sudden cardiac arrest during a workout,” Iwuchukwu wrote in a statement CBS Sports. “Since the event, I have received optimal care from the university and my personal expert medical team. Currently, I am adhering to the standard protocol designed to ensure my health and safety. I’m feeling great and my recovery and rehabilitation remain positive.”

The harrowing incident was not known publicly until now. 

USC officials confirmed the matter to CBS Sports, but did not provide any additional comment in time for this story.  

The university has withheld its prized freshman from all basketball-related activities since his health scare. The team began official preseason practices this week. With the exception of extremely limited exercises in recent weeks, Iwuchukwu has largely been reduced to a spectator over the past two-plus months. There is no timetable for a resolution on if or when he would be allowed to return and play for the Trojans, according to Iwuchukwu and his family.

Medical experts, in addition to others in positions of power at the university, are in the process of monitoring Iwuchukwu’s health and progress before determining if he’ll ever be allowed to play for the Trojans. 

Iwuchukwu is a 7-1, 235-pound forward/center and was a four-star 2022 prospect in the 247Sports rankings and a five-star in the 247Sports Composite rankings who graduated from Southern California Academy. He committed to USC in September 2021. He averaged 19.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in his final grassroots season on the Nike EYBL circuit. He is the latest in a line of highly rated big men to commit to USC, following the likes of Evan Mobley, Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu, all of whom were NBA Draft picks.

Iwuchukwu’s cardiac arrest came a year and a half after college basketball’s most recent high-profile heart-related incident. In December 2020, Florida’s Keyontae Johnson collapsed on the court during a timeout in the Gators’ game at Florida State. Johnson was evaluated by heart specialists from myriad universities for months and eventually cleared for light workouts, but he was never approved by Florida to return to competition at UF. Johnson graduated from Florida and will play this season as a grad transfer at Kansas State.

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