Iowa State's Naz Mitrou-Long 'feels great' as senior year approaches

Cyclones guard coming off two hip surgeries

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WEST DES MOINES — To say Naz Mitrou-Long is back to his old self isn’t doing his progress justice.

New and improved might be more accurate.

With two hip surgeries and a redshirt season in the rearview mirror, Mitrou-Long is ready for his return to the court. He’s feeling the best he’s ever felt.

“I feel great. When people ask me about my hips now, I know it’s just a question they have to ask,” Mitrou-Long said. “Everyone knows I went through it.

“I get surprised because I don’t think about it anymore. I’m thinking about other things, like me maybe tweaking my ankle or something like that. I don’t worry about my hips anymore. I’m thankful for that.”

In an odd stroke of coincidence, Mitrou-Long tweaked his ankle late Friday night at the YMCA Capital City Men’s Basketball League, but didn’t do any major damage.

An ISU spokesman said an X-ray was conducted Saturday morning and a sprained ankle was diagnosed. Mitrou-Long is expected to have a seven to 10-day recovery period, but it pales in comparison to what he was up against the last 15 months.

The 6-foot-4 guard played in the first eight games last season and averaged 12 points per game, but persistent pain in both hips left him without much left in his tank. Mitrou-Long shut his season down and was granted a medical redshirt this spring.

In the months he spent away from competition, Mitrou-Long worked through each necessary step of his recovery.

“I wasn’t able to go live until sometime into this summer,” Mitrou-Long said. “Throughout the whole year, I was going once or twice a week and maybe sometimes three. When I went three, I was kind of pushing it. It wasn’t until I was like a year out on both hips away from the surgery that I was really like, ‘OK I’m feeling consistent.’”

The results were apparent. Mitrou-Long’s weight is down to 201 pounds, which is the lowest he’s been in the last five or six years. His rebirth as a basketball player hasn’t been lost on his teammates either. They’ve seen the progress and work that goes into it.

“Even when he was healthy his freshman and sophomore year, he’s way beyond that right now at the point he is as a player,” senior guard Matt Thomas said. “It’s great to see because he’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around. Whenever you see someone like that, you respect that. You love to see a guy like that have success and there’s a lot of success coming his way this year and for our team.”

Shortly after Mitrou-Long’s expected ankle sprain recovery date, he’ll be headed to Adidas Nations camp from July 28 through August 1 in Orange County, Calif., with ISU point guard Monte Morris.

Mitrou-Long also tried out for the Canadian national team earlier this summer and for a self-described basketball junkie, the experiences are invaluable as he heads into his final collegiate season. A renewed bill of health hasn’t hurt, either.

“I’m very confident in my game,” Mitrou-Long said. “I like where I’m at and feel like this is the hardest I’ve worked in my whole life so I feel like it’s the perfect summer going into my final year here.”

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