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.
Ever since Xavier Foster announced his commitment to Iowa State a year and a half ago, the seven-footer from Oskaloosa has been considered one of the cornerstones of the program’s future.
That didn’t change when the former four-star recruit was forced to miss most of his true freshman campaign after season-ending foot surgery. It didn’t change when Steve Prohm was fired, and T.J. Otzelberger was hired to fill the void at the helm of the Cyclones men’s basketball program.
Now, after a several-month rehab process, Foster is getting closer to getting back on the floor to fulfill his potential as one of the centerpieces of Iowa State’s future.
“The doctor said my foot was 100% healed,” Foster told the media on Wednesday. “Now we’re just trying to slowly transition to on land running and working out on the court.”
That’s welcome news for Otzelberger, his staff and Cyclone fans everywhere, with Foster slated to slide into a considerably bigger on-court role during his second season in the program.
He’ll benefit greatly from a full summer of offseason workouts, unlike what he got during last year’s shortened prep period due to COVID-19. He’ll need to add strength to succeed down low through the rigors of the Big 12.
He’ll need to continue growing his game and improving in every area to become the player people have projected he can be since he was a freshman in high school.
“To be honest, when I first came in, it was it was a lot of pressure,” Foster said. “I was supposed to show I’ll be that kid who can be one and done. As time kind of passed along, we’re here now, and I realized that stars really don’t mean anything. We’re all here doing the same thing. The goal is to put the ball in the hole more than the other team. Now, it’s just about how well I can perfect my craft.”
Foster will work on perfecting that craft alongside someone who fully understands the grind of playing down low in the Big 12 — senior center George Conditt.
Both players bring something different to the table, with Foster’s ability to stretch the floor, making him more of a modern big man than Conditt’s more traditional defending and floor running mold.
They’re both striving to become the best versions of themselves and push each other to reach new heights in the process.
“George pushes me every day,” Foster said. “Today, we were in the weight room doing pull-ups, and he saw my feet were touching the ground. He was like, ‘Hey, come on. I’m not going to let you cheat yourself.’ He’s always pushing me. It’s a love relationship. It’s all love.”
That desire to push each other is something that is needed in the coming months as the Cyclones look to bounce back from last season’s disastrous 2-22 overall and 0-18 record in Big 12 play.
Rebuilding the program to its prior heights will require guys holding each other accountable to do everything they can to reach their max potential. It will require doing hard things daily.
That’s especially the case for Foster if he’s going to become the cornerstone piece he’s long been thought to be, and setting the tone for that growth has already begun.
“Everybody’s in the weight room screaming, yelling, having a good time,” Foster said. “Before that, we’ll be on the court, they’ll have shooter workouts and everything’s a competition. Everybody’s battling. Everybody’s getting better.”