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Arizona guard Josh Green returns to practice, but status unclear for Washington State game

The freshman is battling a lower back injury

josh-green-injury-return-arizona-washington-state-nba-draft-wildcats Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Wildcats wing Josh Green returned to practice Monday but it is unclear if he will play against the Washington schools this weekend. Green is nursing a sacroiliac joint sprain in his lower back, which caused him to miss the USC and UCLA games last weekend.

“Because it was Monday and so late in the year we didn’t do much,” head coach Sean Miller said Tuesday. “So I’ll know more here over the next couple of days.”

Miller said Green did not travel with the team to Los Angeles so that he could stay in Tucson for rest and recovery as opposed to having to deal with the rigors of boarding flights, arriving back at 3 a.m., etc.

“I think that was a really good decision, although it’s always difficult when a player is separated from the team for four days,” Miller said. “Hopefully he’ll be with us, but we have to play the players that are healthy and the players that are able to play.”

When asked if Green’s status is just a matter of him playing through pain, Miller said: “I don’t really know how to word it as much as he had some discomfort and potentially some pain and spasm in his lower back. And from what I can tell, it seems like that’s eliminated. Like I said, he took part in everything that we did yesterday. We just didn’t do any contact. So not until we’re able to go up and down and go against each other will [we] know how much he can help. And most importantly, he has to feel comfortable.”

Especially since Green is widely projected to be a first-round NBA Draft pick in June, and aggravating his injury could hurt his draft stock and cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Obviously, he has a very bright future. and that’s way more important than today’s practice,” Miller acknowledged.

Green is third on the Wildcats in scoring (11.9) and first in steals (1.6). The Wildcats missed his proficiency in transition as well as his stingy perimeter defense in the losses to USC and UCLA.

“He brings a defensive edge that we have,” Dylan Smith said. “He’s very aggressive on defense. He plays extremely hard. Scoring wise he gets it done as well, so just having attack from him and that aggression is obviously missed, but we have multiple good players. I mean, we had UCLA beat and they’re one of the top teams in the conference. It’s just we didn’t finish. We lost games with him as well that we didn’t finish, so we everybody has a next-man-up mentality, so not having him obviously hurt. ... But we’re just happy to get him back this week and going forward.”