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Rawle Alkins no longer bothered by foot injury, doesn’t want to miss practice anymore

Alkins’ foot wasn’t the reason for his recent struggles, he said

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 08 UCLA at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rawle Alkins wants everybody to know that his foot is fine.

And no, it did not cause him to go through that brutal 4-for-20 shooting stretch that he recently endured.

“It’s just a missed shot. I’m allowed to miss, too,” he said. “If I miss a shot, I think guys are like, ‘his leg, his foot is not feeling good because he missed a shot.’ That’s not the case. I jump off that leg 100 percent just how I did before the injury.”

Alkins, who broke his right foot in late September and has missed 12 games this year, actually said he’s more explosive this season. He used his reverse dunk against Oregon State as evidence.

“I can do the same dunks,” he said. “You guys know you’ve seen the Oregon State game. So everything is great. I just had a bad two weeks.”

That said, Alkins does think those two weeks were partly a product of how the UA has handled his injury.

The Wildcats have been overly cautious with him since he returned after missing the first nine games of the year.

One week, Alkins was completely shut down and put in a walking boot after his surgically-repaired foot felt sore. He missed an entire week of practice and two games.

And even when there hasn’t been any soreness, Alkins has been practicing one day, then sitting the next. He doesn’t want to do that anymore.

“We tried that, and I think that’s why I had a little rust,” he said. “... So we had that talk and I think we’re going to go back to the original plan. I think that I should be just like everybody else on the team until I feel any sort of soreness in my foot.”

Sean Miller said Arizona is keeping the big picture in mind. Not just preserving Alkins’ health for the final stretch of the season when they will need him most, but also for his long-term future.

Alkins is currently projected to be a second-round pick in June’s NBA Draft by most publications. Sports Illustrated pegs him as a first-round pick.

“I love the University of Arizona because they are being so cautious with me and my injury. They’re focused on me long term and not me just for this season. I appreciate them for that, but at the end of the day, I want to be just like everyone else, too,” Alkins said.

Alkins broke out of his shooting slump Saturday, scoring 20 points while draining 4-of-7 3s in an 81-67 win over USC.

That helped the Wildcats snap a two-game losing streak in which Alkins struggled mightily. He doesn’t subscribe to the ‘when he plays well, Arizona wins’ theory, though.

“I wouldn’t say that as far as I go, the team goes,” Alkins said. “Because it’s a team game and everyone’s going to have their night. ... I always want to play great every game. But nights that I’m not shooting well, we still had the opportunity to win.”

Alkins was asked Monday what he thought about Arizona’s projection as a four-seed as well as the teams in their bracket. He said he doesn’t really care; he is just happy to be back on the court.

And that when he’s out there, he is so pumped with adrenaline that he doesn’t feel any pain in his foot. Or even think about it.

So fans shouldn’t either.

“I think people are thinking about my bad performances these last two weeks (are due) to the injury,” Alkins said. “I mean, I guess you guys aren’t used to seeing bad nights from people. It’s like the world’s over when you have a couple bad games, but I’m happy to bounce back from that, and I think the best is yet to come.”

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire