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BYU center Richard Harward done for the year after complications from heart issue

BYU’s Richard Harward, left, Alex Barcello and Te’Jon Lucas confer during practice at the Marriott Center in Provo on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)



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PROVO — Richard Harward's basketball career is over, at least for now.

The 6-foot-11, 256-pound center from Orem announced Tuesday on his Instagram page that he will "take a step back from basketball" after consulting with his doctors and coaches following a medical issue that has kept him sidelined for the 2021-22 season.

Harward had been kept out since the start of the season with an undisclosed "medical issue," according to BYU coach Mark Pope, who was doubtful if the Utah Valley transfer might ever play again.

At the very least, it doesn't seem like a return to the court will happen this year.

"The condition affecting my heart has developed further complications," Harward wrote. "For my health and safety, it has been determined I will be out the remainder of the season. I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of kindness and support.

"I am looking forward to cheering the team on to a great season! Go Cougs!"

The former Orem High standout whose older brother Ian played basketball at BYU and BYU-Hawaii, Harward played two seasons at Utah Valley, where he averaged 10.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and shot 6.7% from the field before following then-UVU coach Pope to Provo.

After sitting out the 2019-20 season per NCAA transfer rules, Harward shot 60.1% from the field en route to 6.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.5 minutes across 27 games for BYU in 2020-21, when he helped the Cougars break a five-year NCAA Tournament drought.

But complications at the start of the season kept him sidelined since the start of the year, with Pope remarking at one point that the 6-foot-11 big man struggled that his cardiovascular system was down enough where he couldn't even participate in practice — yet a lone a game — for the Cougars.

A redshirt senior by eligibility, Harward could apply for a medical redshirt season or make use of a free year of eligibility provided by the COVID-19 pandemic — if he is ever healthy enough to return to the court.

That won't be the case right now. Or for the rest of the year. Whether it happens later is yet to be seen.

BYU (8-2) continues the season Saturday at Weber State (6 p.m. MT, KJZZ/ESPN+). The Cougars then hit the road for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic beginning next Wednesday, Dec. 22 against South Florida.

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