DURHAM, N.C.—Two surgeries and eight months later I’m happy to say I’m finally back to playing basketball again. If sitting out six months from my first ACL wasn’t enough, sitting out eight months with my second ACL was certainly enough to make me never take the game for granted. You never know when the game can be taken away from you and my injuries have definitely made me appreciate basketball that much more.
Two weeks ago I took my ACL clearance test, which involved many different running/jumping/cutting tests and I passed! It was a long hard road to recovery but all the countless hours of rehab have paid off. My knee feels great and I feel stronger than ever! I’ve been practicing with the team for about a week now and everything’s been going really well.
I never realized how much different the college level of play was from watching on the sidelines, but now that I’m in on the action, it’s been made pretty apparent. I’ve quickly learned that if I take the ball inside the lane there’s a very probable chance it’s getting stuffed right back in my face.
It’s going to take me a while to get back to where I want to be but each day I’m becoming more and more comfortable out on the floor. The team has done a great job helping me learn the plays and showing me the ropes.
I want to be 100% healthy and ready to go before I play in any games so I’m in no rush to speed up the process. Although I’m finally dismissed from the repetitive everyday rehab exercises I’m still going to continue lifting with my legs at least three times a week to help keep up my strength and remain injury free. My time on the sidelines has definitely been a huge learning experience that will be highly beneficial for when my time comes to get out on the court. Until then just being able to practice and warm up with the team for games is enough for me right now.
Things really feel like they are coming together for me right now. I’m finally healthy and to add icing to my cake we got to play in front of a sold out, record setting crowd of 24,000 at Rupp Arena against Kentucky, my home state. We played an awesome game and managed to get away with a tough win on the road. Everyone knows Duke isn’t very popular in the state of Kentucky, so getting the win with 24,000 people against us was a sweet, sweet feeling. The atmosphere was absolutely crazy and the energy was intense! The bench crew was going crazy waving our towels the whole game helping to fuel the energy on the court and the team didn’t disappoint.
The Kentucky fans were out in full force, but we had a group of Cameron crazies there cheering us on too. Even though I wasn’t playing, my family and friends made up a large part of our cheering section behind our bench. At one point I looked behind me to find my Aunt going crazy after a big play doing something called the “Roger Rabbit” dance move. Then there were my little sisters Briley and Emma waving my fat heads in the stands and constantly poking my shoulder while I was on the bench just to say hi.
It was an awesome experience being able to display DWB talent on such a big stage with my family and friends in the crowd. I was so happy to be back home in the Bluegrass, just in time for the holidays!
Special thanks to Coach P for letting me hitch a ride back to Owensboro with my family after the game. We’re now on Christmas break and get six days off to spend time with family and friends until heading back to Durham to continue the season!