The Arizona Wildcats are eager to get Ray Smith — who is recovering from a torn ACL that forced him to miss his freshman season — back on the court, but they'll have to wait a bit longer before he's able to take on a full workload.
Sean Miller told Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports that Smith won't be cleared for full-contract drills until August (although it's unclear when in August in particular).
Arizona's Ray Smith (ACL) will not be cleared for full-contact drills until August, Sean Miller told @CBSSports.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) July 20, 2016
ACL tears can take around 12 months to fully recover from and Smith tore his in late-October, so this timetable seems about right.
And based on what Miller said in May, Smith's recovery has gone well so far, so there doesn't seem to be a reason to be too concerned about Smith's health, despite this recent news.
"The only thing I can say about Ray is he’s doing every single thing he’s supposed to to be successful as a player," Miller said. "Anytime you have multiple ACL tears – one on each knee – it makes for a unique path, but both of his surgeries have been successful."
Miller continued, "If you talk to Chris Rounds (the UA's director of strength and conditioning), he’ll tell you that Ray Smith’s legs might be the strongest he’s ever seen and that’s quite a statement because that means Ray has spent hours in the weight room, strengthening that. So we’re optimistic that he’ll make a full recovery, and if so, he’ll be one of our newcomers."
It also makes sense to be overly cautious with Smith given this is his second ACL tear (albeit they were in different knees) and teams aren't able to have full practices at this juncture in the offseason anyway, so it's not like he's missing a ton of valuable time with his teammates on the court.
Still, with Terrance Ferguson deciding to head overseas instead of enrolling at the UA and thinning Arizona's wing depth in the process, it makes Smith even more important to the Wildcats' success in 2016-17.
Smith, if healthy, will likely take on a major role and projects as a starter (whether at small forward or power forward), if not one of Arizona's best players. In fact, he was once deemed to be Arizona's best player last season before his injury.
"No question, [Smith] had a chance to be our starting small forward on last year’s team," Miller said.
Essentially, Smith's health is certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward, but as it stands now, I'd expect him to be ready to go when the season begins in November.
Hopefully — from a basketball and non-basketball standpoint — that turns out to be true, and Smith's injury issues prove to be a thing of the past.
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