For the first time since injuring his lower leg last week, Chris Eversley was dressed for the Cal Poly men’s basketball team at practice Wednesday.
Without anything more than tape around the afflicted area, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward did some light shooting, walked briskly in a straight line and jogged some.
It certainly looked like his recovery time will fall somewhere on the shorter end of a scale that initially indicated he could be out for anywhere between four days and the remainder of the season.
Despite Eversley’s steady improvement, however, the Mustangs are still unsure whether their leading scorer and rebounder will be available to play in Saturday’s 7 p.m. Blue-Green Rivalry game against visiting UC Santa Barbara.
“I got out of my boot yesterday and off the crutches two days ago,” Eversley said Wednesday. Cal Poly athletic trainer Kristal Slover “and I both agree it’s probably going to be a game-time decision for Saturday.”
Eversley initially suffered the injury, now being referred to as a high ankle/tendon sprain in his left leg, late in the first half of Cal Poly’s 68-53 victory over UC Davis at Mott Gym on Feb. 9.
The Mustangs (11-11, 7-5 Big West Conference) led by 17 points at the half, and Eversley did not return in what continued to be a blowout victory over the Aggies.
X-rays over the weekend revealed no bone fractures. Still, Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero prefers to take a cautious approach over rushing Eversley back into action against the Gauchos (8-15, 4-8 Big West), even if it is one of the most anticipated home games of the season.
“He doesn’t have to be 100 percent to go,” Callero said, “but he does clearly have to be out of the way of re-injuring it or hurting something else because he’s not on balance. He’s going to have to show a good practice Friday or else we won’t play him. He’s going to have to show he can go through five minutes of full-court aggressive contact.”
Said Eversley: “If I can compete the way I usually do, compete at a high level; if I go out there and feel like myself, then I’ll go out there and play. But at the same time, I don’t want to jeopardize the team and myself at any point.”
Eversley leads Cal Poly with 15.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. He’s taken nearly 100 more shots than the next closest Mustangs player and also leads the team with 33 minutes a game.
If Eversley is unable to go, senior Chris O’Brien would start in his place at power forward, and redshirt freshman Joel Awich would likely double his 8.2 minutes off the bench, Callero said.
The 6-7, 205-pound Awich has seen increased playing time since scoring seven points in 12 minutes in the previous game against UC Santa Barbara, an 83-81 Gauchos victory in double overtime at the Thunderdome on Jan. 19.
Having started eight games, O’Brien is averaging 4.1 points and 19.7 minutes. At 6-4, his challenge will be upping his two rebounds per game against a Gauchos roster that includes seven forwards measuring 6-7 or taller.
“We have enough upper classmen leadership and enough talented young guys that can fill in right away,” Mustangs senior guard Dylan Royer said. “C.E.’s obviously our highest scorer and rebounder, best offensive player, but we’ve got guys that are ready. We’ve got to prepare like he’s not going to be there. It would be great if he could be there, but if he’s not, we’re going to be ready to go regardless.”