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Sun Kings to sign Ronny Turiaf

Yakima, WA (Sports Network) - The Yakama Sun Kings will reportedly sign former Gonzaga standout Ronny Turiaf to a contract, just months after the forward underwent successful open-heart surgery.

According to the Olympian, Turiaf has been medically cleared by doctors and was given full permission to return to the court.

Turiaf was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 37th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, but never played with the team after it was discovered during a routine physical that he had an enlarged aortic heart that needed surgery.

A native of Le Robert, Martinique, France, the 6-10 Turiaf was instructed that an operation was necessary or he would risk a 75 percent chance that the condition could eventually turn fatal.

At the time of the July 26 surgery, it was reported that Turiaf would miss all of 2005-06 and possibly never play again. However, his rehab has gone better than initially predicted and this appears to be Turiaf's first step in returning to the NBA.

The paper, though, did not give a timetable as to when Turiaf would re-join the Lakers, who still own his rights.

Turiaf was drafted by Yakama with the fifth pick in September's draft in the hopes that he would be able to play again. His first action likely will come Monday night when the Sun Kings play the Idaho Stampede in Boise, ID.

The 22-year-old Turiaf ranks fourth on Gonzaga's all-time scoring (1,723) and rebound (859) lists. He also is second in career blocks (179) and finished his collegiate career as the Bulldogs' all-time leader in free throws made (643).

12/22 09:02:42 ET

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