Last September, the final nail in Missouri’s coffin was supposed to be the injury to Laurence Bowers.
In mid-September, the versatile, 6-foot-8 forward tore his ACL, leaving a Missouri team that didn’t have any size, a roster that was more concerned with stats than wins, and a coach that no one had any faith in.
The Tiger’s season is one of the most incredible stories of the 2011-2012 season — they won 30 games despite starting a shooting guard at the four, entertained everyone with their ability to spread the floor and shoot, and won the Big 12 tournament — but all that success didn’t change the fact that Bowers was still laid up with a busted knee.
On Wednesday, Bowers finally made his return to the court, telling me that he was cleared for full-contact practice. Bowers says he is still only about 90-95% and that his explosiveness and agility is not yet where it needs to be, but that’s not a huge problem yet; the season is still three months away.
Bowers isn’t the only potential star to make a return to the court on Wednesday.
USC’s Jio Fontan also has made it all the way back from an ACL tear and has been cleared for full-contact. Fontan tore his ACL on a team trip to Brazil, setting the tone for what was an incredibly injury-plagued season for the Trojans.
With Fontan, hopefully back to full strength by the time the season starts, joining Maurice Jones, a healthy Dewayne Dedmon and a slew of talented transfers, Kevin O’Neill looks like he has the offensive firepower necessary to make his staunchly defensive team win quite a few games.