It’s been more than three months since Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome compound fracture in his right leg during the Cardinals’ Elite Eight victory over Duke.
And three more months from now, the rising junior guard could be back on the floor, according to his head coach. Rick Pitino told reporters on Tuesday that he is encouraged by the progress of Ware’s rehabilitation — which now includes riding a stationary bike — and that he could be back as early as October.
“He’s just riding the bike and you can almost see from the X-rays the bone healing,” Pitino said. “I’d say, in another month he’ll be healed and then he’ll start working out a little bit.”
The 6-foot-2 guard has had a well-documented rehab stint ever since he broke his leg back on Mar. 31. The injury, though difficult to watch and unfortunate for Ware and his playing career, served as an inspiration to the rest of his team from the time he laid on floor in Indianapolis until the time the basket was lowered so he could cut down the net.
Having Ware back for the start of the Cardinals’ title defense is big. Forwards Montrezl Harrell and Chane Behanan are projected to have big seasons and the addition of a veteran guard, along with Russ “Freaking” Smith in the backcourt will only make the Cards that much tougher. Remember, the game before Ware’s horrific injury, he dropped a season-high 11 points off 5-of-7 shooting against Oregon in the Sweet 16.
As a sophomore, Ware averaged 4.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.