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Kentucky’s CJ Fredrick is ready for long-awaited return to action & More Trending News

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — CJ Fredrick hadn’t even thought of it, and that was the purpose. When Kentucky’s Blue-White scrimmage was over final weekend, after Fredrick had run up and down for half-hour of five-on-five action and nonetheless felt like he may preserve going, John Calipari identified that it was type of an enormous deal. Not simply that he may, however that Fredrick, whose school profession has been stuffed with accidents, by no means anxious he couldn’t.

“In practice, we run all day, so it didn’t even hit me that what I did was actually a milestone for me,” Fredrick says. “Playing 30 minutes, that’s something I hadn’t done. But we’re just conditioned like that, so I didn’t think anything of it. Afterward, I was like, you know what? That was mentally a good block for me to get past, knowing I can do that and did do that.”

Football Highlights

He performed like a person keen to lastly present what he can provide the Wildcats, hitting his first three 3-point tries and scoring 11 factors within the first 13 minutes of that scrimmage. He completed with 18 factors, hit 7 of 11 photographs, splashed 4 of his 5 3-point makes an attempt and felt loads just like the man who shot 47 p.c from past the arc in two seasons at Iowa. It was the following main step in his return from a torn hamstring final fall — a return that till now has been gradual, regular and cautious. Fredrick performed simply 37 whole minutes throughout Kentucky’s four-game exhibition collection within the Bahamas in August, scoring 12 whole factors within the first three video games and sitting out the final one. He made only one 3-pointer in 5 tries.

“The jump from the Bahamas to where I am now has been my biggest jump,” Fredrick says. “The game is just coming a lot easier to me. It’s slowing down and I’m starting to feel like the player I was a while ago.”

He was the 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky after main Covington Catholic to a state championship (at Rupp Arena) and averaging 23.1 factors whereas taking pictures 48 p.c from 3. He was a Big Ten All-Freshman choice who scored 16-plus factors seven occasions as a rookie — towards the likes of Cincinnati, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois — and hit a minimum of two 3s in 18 of 25 video games he performed. He had the second-most correct 3-point taking pictures sophomore season in Hawkeyes historical past, a season through which he dropped 21 factors (and 5 3s) on North Carolina and scored 42 whole factors (with eight made 3s) on a heater of consecutive Big Ten video games.

“My main goal is just to come out here and help us win, but I definitely want to show everybody the kind of player I am and that I can still do the things I used to do,” Fredrick says. “Obviously there’s a knock that I’m injury-prone, so I’m just trying to show I’m going to be able to play 20-30 minutes and be fine.”

It’s not unreasonable to have doubts. He’s 23 years outdated with the medical historical past of an growing older NBA veteran. Fredrick cracked a rib throughout his redshirt yr at Iowa, performed his freshman season there on a nasty ankle, then had offseason surgical procedure to restore a Jones fracture in his proper foot. He battled plantar fasciitis in his left foot all through a redshirt sophomore season through which he barely practiced and missed 4 video games. He found a stress fracture in his left shin final July, after transferring to Kentucky, and had a metallic rod inserted. He recovered in time to win the 3-point contest at Big Blue Madness final October and was lastly cleared to return for the opener towards Duke at Madison Square Garden — the place he promptly tore his left hamstring off the bone whereas dunking in pregame warm-ups.

Since that surgical procedure, Fredrick has taken a don’t-rush-it method and refused to let unfavourable ideas seep in.

“There are so many little positive mental notes you can take from that,” he says. “You learn so much about your body. And for me, I went through something really traumatic and I was able to sit back and be like, man, I got through that. I rehabbed every day, I did the things I was supposed to do, I got down to 8 percent body fat. Those are little things you can take into the season. Mentally, I’m just really in a sharp space, having a whole season to sit back and kind of know what (Calipari) likes, know the system. I haven’t played a game, but I feel like I’ve been here and I know what’s going on.”

There are two extra exhibition tune-ups to get via, Sunday towards Missouri Western and Thursday towards Kentucky State, earlier than Fredrick lastly makes his official debut for the Wildcats within the Nov. 7 opener towards Howard. It can have been 595 days between regular-season appearances for Fredrick, assuming no extra surprises. He received a scare after rolling an ankle in apply and having to sit out the staff’s professional day Oct. 9, however that was a minor subject that healed rapidly.

“It’s just nice to see him, and you gotta be happy for him,” Calipari says. “You think about it: He’s been out a year and a half — and it’s been freak injuries — then he got hurt on a breakaway layup here and we thought it was going to be long. Thank goodness it was like a three-day thing, but when he hit the ground, we thought he was out for a while. And I’m like, this kid’s got bad luck. But it wasn’t.”

Which is excellent news, Calipari says, as a result of Fredrick is not solely a dependable shooter, but additionally a savvy veteran who defends and passes and leads. He’s the type of glue man a staff with nationwide championship aspirations wants.

“He’s an unbelievable teammate,” Calipari says. “Telling guys, ‘Pass the ball. Just pass it. We’ll get it back to you. Move the ball.’ And he does it in a good way.”

Fredrick simply wanted to get his personal swagger again after such an extended layoff. About two weeks in the past, Calipari stopped a apply as a result of he sensed the sharp-shooter was urgent.

“I said, ‘All right, guys, when he shoots it, how many of you think it’s going in?’ The whole team raised their hand,” Calipari says. “I said, ‘So are you hearing this? Like, we’re all good with you. But you haven’t played for a year and a half. It’s going to take time.’ Don’t expect this to happen overnight. It may take a month. So what? And hopefully that lightened the load for him, because he shot the ball in the scrimmage.”

It helps to know now that his physique will maintain up, that he now not has to fear each time he bounds up off the court docket whether or not every thing will maintain collectively. Although it was laborious for Fredrick to settle for a strict pitch rely within the Bahamas, he was grateful that trainers and new power coach Brady Welsh have been dedicated to rigorously managing his comeback.

“The ramp-up period went great,” Fredrick says. “The main focus was for me to be ready in November, for the season. They were pretty big on, ‘When we tell you to come out, you’re out.’ They were clear it was non-negotiable. Brady has been huge for me, just seeing where my body is at every day. Some days, my body needs a little bit more rest and some days I can do a little bit more. That is Brady’s job to figure out, and he’s great at it. I’m trying to be my freshest and help us win from November all the way through April.”

Fredrick has lengthy since conquered the nervousness and pregame jitters he felt as a freshman at Iowa, however he figures the butterflies may make a comeback for opening evening at Kentucky. The final time he performed an actual sport in Rupp Arena, his late grandfather was sitting within the stands.

“I’ve never sat out a whole season,” he says, “and the anticipation of playing close to home again, playing at a school like Kentucky, right now I’m just super excited for the moment. I definitely think I’ll be a little bit nervous come the first game. Good nerves, not bad nerves, but definitely some nerves.”

(Photo: Jordan Prather / USA Today)

Kentucky’s CJ Fredrick is ready for long-awaited return to action

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Kentucky’s CJ Fredrick is ready for long-awaited return to action

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Kentucky’s CJ Fredrick is ready for long-awaited return to action

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