TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama basketball could regain a crucial portion of its roster sooner than originally anticipated.
It was announced in early December that Crimson Tide guard Nimari Burnett would be out for six to eight weeks with a wrist injury that required surgery. With next week being the fifth week since surgery, Burnett was expected to be out for the foreseeable future.
On Friday, however, Alabama coach Nate Oats gave a positive update on Burnett’s status. While still restricted, Oats revealed that Burnett has been practicing with the team.
“He has returned to the practice in a limited role,” Oats said. “He was able to shoot to the side, he’s got the cast and brace off – he’s had the heavy tape job – but shoot, we’ll see how he reacts. I think Clarke [Holter]talks to the surgeon who performed the surgery – he’s getting closer.”
Before his injury, Burnett played a crucial role in Alabama’s success last December. Burnett started all nine games of Alabama’s guard before the injury, averaging 7.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. He was also responsible for seven assists, four steals and three blocks, and shot about 35 percent from beyond the arc.
While Alabama has lost just one game in Burnett’s absence — a 100-90 loss to Gonzaga on Dec. 17 — his return will add a solid presence at both ends of the court.
Oats said Burnett could potentially return to full status as early as next week, just in time for the team’s trip to Norman, Oklahoma to play Oklahoma in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
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“[Burnett’s return] could be next week,’ said Oats. “It’ll probably be five and a half by the end of next week [weeks], pushes six. He’s been in the practice for the last two days and he doesn’t have permission to do everything in the practice but enough so I think Clarke will talk to the surgeon and I think after those two practices he’ll tell him , where he is.
“From what I understand he probably needs to take another X-ray and see where he is. He’s close. He’s coming close here in the next few games.”
Alabama’s next basketball game is Saturday (5 p.m. CT, SEC Network) in Missouri.
This story will be updated with video from Oats’ press conference on Friday.
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