Max Strus fully cleared for contact after suffering torn ACL


Alexa Sandler / The DePaulia

Max Strus lines up a free-throw attempt on March 3 against St. John’s. Strus led the Blue Demons with 43 points en route to a 92-83 victory on senior day at Wintrust Arena.

Nearly nine months after Max Strus tore his ACL in a NBA G League game, Strus told The DePaulia that he has been fully cleared to resume normal basketball activities.

Strus, who played at DePaul from 2017-19, suffered the injury while playing for the Windy City Bulls on Dec. 23. But almost nine months to the day of his injury, Strus has been given the thumbs up that he is fully healthy again. 

“I’m fully healed now, I’m basically 100 percent, so I’m back doing everything,” Strus said. “Obviously, with everything going on in the world, there’s not much 5-on-5 going on or me being able to do that in my recovery process. That’s kind of pushing me back a little bit, but other than that I’m cleared to play and ready to go. I’m feeling better than I have before.” 

Usually after an athlete suffers a torn ACL they would be out for 8-12 months, which fits into Strus’ recovery timeframe. But it’s the road back from the injury that is the most gruelling part of the rehilabiton. 

The process of returning to action has multiple steps, including learning how to walk normally again and being able to get the swelling down in the knee. For Strus, he was back walking in a couple of days after surgery and began the long process of coming back to the court. 

“I was walking two days after surgery,” Strus said. “I was putting weight on it. Obviously, I’m on crutches a little bit, but I was out of my brace in a week or two weeks. My pain tolerance has helped me out a little bit — I think I’m a tough guy in that region. It wasn’t too bad, but it’s a long process. You find the new things you haven’t done in a while and reach those goals and it makes it more feeling more accomplished when you get to week 12 and you can start running again. You start marking down your calendar of what day and week you are going to be able to do something. It’s just little goals you set along the way and it helps you out. 

After playing at DePaul for three years, Strus graduated and entered the NBA Draft in 2019. But after two rounds and 60 picks, the 6-foot-5 forward went undrafted. He did sign with the Boston Celtics the very next day, but the team released him in October — paving the way for him to come back home. 

A native of Hickory Hills, Illinois, Strus signed a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls, allowing him to be closer to his family and friends. That aspect of being with his family while recovering from the injury, especially during a pandemic, has been a welcome sight for Strus as he prepares for a new season. 

“I’m from here, grew up here, I never really left Chicago,” Strus said. “Going to DePaul was awesome, playing in the city, having my family at every game. I thought I was going to be in Boston at first, but things didn’t work out like I wanted to. Luckily, I came back home and got the opportunity to play for the Bulls, so that is great. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I have the best family in the world, so being around them and having them at every game has helped me along the way.”

When Strus suffered the injury last December, he was starting to get his chance with the Bulls in the NBA, but also performing at a high level in the G League. In 13 games for the Windy City Bulls, Strus averaged 18.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game — including a 31-point game against the College Park Skyhawks.

Strus only got to play two games in the NBA before suffering his injury, but he had an impressive appearance in his debut against the Miami Heat on Nov. 22. In five minutes of game time, Strus scored five points in a 116-108 loss. 

At the time of Strus’ injury, other players on the Chicago Bulls were also getting hurt and missing extended time, which would have given him more opportunities on the court. 

“It was tough, I was just gearing up for a call-up at that point because a lot of the Bulls guys were hurt,” Strus said. “Right as I got hurt, the next couple of weeks after that I think I was going to get a call-up and get some time and some minutes playing with the NBA team. That was hard and frustrating, but in all things, everything happens for a reason. So, I didn’t get too down on it. It hurt my family more than it hurt me, them seeing me struggle to get to this point of my life and then have it taken away from me. But it’s part of being a professional, part of playing a game for a living there’s always a risk you can get hurt. But I’ll be better for it in the long run.”

As Strus is now cleared to resume basketball activities, he will get that chance again to make an NBA roster. Currently, there’s no start date confirmed for the 2020-21 NBA season, but the expectation is it begins some time in January. But Strus is continuing to stay ready for whatever his next opportunity will be. 

“I have worked my ass off to get here,” Strus said. “I’m ready for my next opportunity, I don’t know what this is going to be. Right now it’s a waiting game to see what next season is going to be like, and what opportunities I will have. The only thing I can keep doing right now is working out, keep strengthening everything, stay on top of my recovery and just keep improving my basketball skills.”