Egbunu still not cleared for contact

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With January winding down, it doesn’t appear that senior center John Egbunu will be returning to the court for the Gators in the immediate future.

The 6-foot-11, 265 pound Egbunu is labeled as “day-to-day” but Florida coach Mike White said he has yet to be cleared for full contact. White said Egbunu, who is rehabbing from a torn ACL, will need to go through contact practices in order to return to game action. Florida next plays Tuesday night at Georgia.

White said Egbunu is running at three-quarters speed and dunking the basketball, but is still dealing with some swelling in his surgically repaired knee following workouts. Egbunu suffered the injury close to a year ago, on Feb. 14, 2017 against Auburn, and underwent surgery in early March. There was originally hope Egbunu could return to the court this month, but now the timetable for a full recovery remains undetermined.

“Obviously, I wish he was out there,” White said. “I wish he was out there four months ago. I know he does, too. His teammates do. I have no idea. It’s just a deal with him and (trainer) Duke (Werner) in terms of his comfort level, swelling versus not swelling, how he feels overall. I know I’m not going to push it and Duke is not going to push it. Ultimately it’s on John and how he feels.”

White said freshman forward Chase Johnson, meanwhile, is making progress in returning from concussion protocol. The 6-9 Johnson, who has appeared in just four games this season, suffered an initial concussion in October and a second concussion in early December.

“Most of the time in the last two months you get negative responses to how you are feeling,” White said of Johnson. “They’ve all been positive. I think he’s starting to feel a little bit better, consistently. Happy for him, hopefully we can get him on the court full speed soon.”

White said there still hasn’t been a determination on whether freshman center Isaiah Stokes, who also is recovering from ACL surgery, will redshirt this season.

“With him, there’s not even a decision to be made right now, because of his conditioning,” White said. “I think if his weight got down and he got into great shape here over the next 2-4 weeks and he really wanted to come off a redshirt and we felt like he could help this team from a conditioning standpoint, there would be a decision. But right now, he’s just way out of shape. Obviously, a big factor is he hasn’t been able to really get after it and exert himself. Hopefully there’s a decision to be made, but right now there’s not.”

 

22 COMMENTS

  1. It’s fine. Florida will make the playoffs and is remaining in contention for an SEC championship without him. Bring him on as slow as necessary — even if you have to wait until the post-season. It really jacked up his Gator career though.

  2. It would appear that stokes will redshirt, and probably johnson as well. Big John also won’t be seeing too much actual play as without practice with this group he won’t be that effective either. Sad to say this team could be much better with him at full strength.

  3. Based on my own personal experience it takes a full year to properly heal from ACL surgery depending on the severity of the tear. Swelling is also pretty common when you initially start trying to get the full range of motion back. It actually took me about 15 months to really feel “normal” again. I agree it may be better for Egbunu and Stokes to take a medical redshirt year and come back full strength next year. (Not sure if Egbunu would be eligible for one though). The Gators could definitely use some more bodies down low though. However it may result in some temporary setbacks to overall team chemistry at this point in the year. Cudos to Koulechov in the Baylor game. I thought he had his best rebounding effort of the year. I was really impressed with the way he battled much taller guys for rebounds. Hope he continues with the same effort the rest of the year.

    • Rob, Egbunu is in his 5th year, having played at USF as a true freshman, then transferring to UF and sitting out Billy D’s last season, then playing the last two under Mike White. In my limited understanding, he could petition the NCAA for a 6th year based on his medical issues, but according to Mark Wise, he’s more likely to opt for the draft.

      • not a surprise with the draft option, but if he’s not fully recovered by the time that the pros come calling, he may actually want to come back a year. pros are very tetchy when it comes to drafting centers with medical issues.

        • Agreed. I’d love to see him back for one more year, and I think it might benefit him to work on some post moves, but it sounds like he’s going.

    • somehow made it to the elite eight without him last year, and the overall cast this year is better, so disagree with this wholeheartedly. doesn’t mean a repeat performance either though, and definitely helps to have a legitimate center and not a four (no offense KH – you’re a great four) playing out of position.

    • Agree 100%. We had the inside out game last year without Egbunu with Leon and Robinson plus Rimmer helping out some in addition to Hayes and Stone etc. and this year we don’t have that balance which is most likely really going to hurt us against the stronger – taller – athletic teams you find in the tournament. It doesn’t feel like this is going to be another deep run as you can’t do it every year as overall the program is doing great!

  4. Patience. There’s no timetable, but John Egbunu will be back this season. The coaches are doing the right thing in being extra cautious. He’s practicing, conditioning and will continue to make steps to a full return. It would have been great if he could return to the lineup in late January, but February and even March would be significant.

  5. Antonio Morrison (L.B. for football team) had the most amazing recovery from ACL surgery after his Jr. year. But best of hopes and wishes for Egbunu, Stokes, and Johnson with his concussions, regardless. Ultimately, I believe only Stokes and Johnson will ever play effectively again in the Orange & Blue. Go Gators! Beat UGA, like a drum!

  6. Thanks Kevin as this is a huge story at least to me. I really have learned to like this player. Were he healthy I think we would have a good shot at a national championship. However I trust this is being handled the right way… Even if he doesn’t play and goes straight to the nba it’s a positive for the program and for him. I would hate that but I would understand.

  7. I think this team has done a remarkable job this year without a true center, or at least depth of any kind there. Hayes will probably sleep for two months after the season ends.

  8. My thoughts are that Egbunu will not play this year and enter the draft. As a former athletic trainer it appears the recovery time is just taking longer for him. It takes big men longer to recover from ACL repair than say a football player. I hate to see him leave but I think it might be in his best interest to not play and enter draft. Hopefully I am way off!

  9. I just went online to see what ACL recovery period should be.
    It said 6 months.
    I have no experience or knowledge.

    It seems like (from other athletes) recovery period is dependent on the individual and how hard they work to recover.

    So this seems like he is not working very hard to recover.

    Such a shame that this team is losing , mostly because they have no true center.

    It is Feb 1 st so getting Egbunu back this year is getting very close to the point of no return.

    It may take him a month to get into playing condition, & getting some chemistry with team, etc

    Very disappointing, this could have been a team that challenged for NC.

    • Buck, You didn’t just Google medical advice and the disparage a young student athlete for not working hard did you?

      Each case is unique and I’d be willing to bet John will meet you anywhere to show you exactly how hard he has been working.

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