As head coach for UNI men's basketball Ben Jacobson told me during an interview today, he expects his All-Missouri Valley Conference center Austin Phyfe to be back and fully healthy for the 2022-2023 season:

After the season we were able to get up to Rochester, (Minnesota) to get him looked at at the Mayo Clinic and got a great report. They feel the COVID has gotten much better and -- in a lot of ways -- gone away. ... We were able to get him back and doing some workouts. He put together a great four-to-five week stretch in the weight room, on the bike, and he started doing a little bit of running. It's been really, really good to see him back. ... The four or five weeks that we just came out of was the most that he's been himself in a long time. It was Phyfe the way we're used to seeing Phyfe.

As Coach Jake referenced, Phyfe dealt with the struggles of long-haul COVID during the 2021-2022 season after being diagnosed with COVID-19 during the summer of 2021. He was typically unable to play more than 10-12 minutes a game.

He did a great job during the year -- as we all know -- of keeping his spirits up, putting the team first, and doing everything he could to win a championship. He did everything he could to be as much of himself as he could possibly be knowing the challenges that he was going through.

He averaged 5.4 points and 2.2 rebounds while shooting 53.4 percent from the floor in 2021.

When Phyfe has been at 100 percent in his time as a Panther, he's been damn near impossible to stop. When he earned First Team All-Conference in 2019-2020, he averaged 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting 67 percent from the floor. In 2020-2021 he scored 12.4 points per game and grabbed 7.3 rebounds per contest.

To quote what a member of the coaching staff from Drake told me at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament this year,

When we played UNI in the MVC Tournament in 2020, we were almost more worried about stopping Phyfe than AJ Green.

As you likely know by now, Green is hoping to be selected in the NBA Draft coming up on June 23. He's also the two-time MVC Player of the Year.

Phyfe is pretty good.

And to the delight of Panther fans everywhere, he's expected to be back and fully healthy for Coach Jake and UNI basketball for the 2022-2023 season.

To hear the entirety of the interview with Coach Jacobson, tune into Cornstalks and Sports Talk on AM950 and KOEL.com from 9 to 10 AM on Saturday morning. The podcast will also be available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever else you get your podcasts.

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