ATHENS — It’s possible that Juwan Parker, who started half of his sophomore season, has played his last game for the Georgia men’s basketball team.
Parker has yet to play this season and is expected to seek a medical redshirt because of a chronic Achilles injury, which also caused him to miss the other half of last season.
Head coach Mark Fox said Tuesday he would not “rule out” Parker returning this year, but admitted that there have been no signs of progress for Parker’s Achilles.
“Maybe two weeks ago we did a test on him and it didn’t go well. We tried to do some things with him (Monday) and it did not respond well,” Fox said. “His status is unchanged. I wish it would show some signs of progress.”
The junior swingman recently graduated and would be eligible to transfer elsewhere and play immediately. That is an option that will be at the disposal of Parker, a native of Tulsa, Okla.
Parker started the first 14 games last season before suffering the injury. He returned to play in four more games down the stretch, putting off surgery in the hopes of helping his team make the NCAA tournament. One of the games Parker returned to play in was the regular season finale at Auburn, which helped cement the team’s at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
“We remind him daily that without that game against Auburn we wouldn’t have been where we were,” fellow junior J.J. Frazier said. “The sacrifice he made for us last year doesn’t go unnoticed. Every time he gets down on himself I remind him our success last year wouldn’t have happened without him.”
Parker was with the team on the trip to Florida, watching from the bench in street clothes.
“I try to keep his mind on understanding that’s just as big a part of this team as anybody else,” Frazier said. “And we need his spirit just as much as we need Yante’s, and Chuck’s and Kenny’s and myself, because he’s an older guy. When he’s at a game and on the sideline he can see certain things and relate it to us, and tell the young guys, hey I see this, I see that.”
Last season Parker averaged 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. While not a spectacular player – his season high was 11 points and seven rebounds against Arkansas – he was good as a glue player in the small forward role. Parker rebounded well and played good defense, and rarely committed turnovers or made a bad pass.
Parker then had offseason surgery that he hoped would fix the Achilles injury.
“Most days it feels great,” Parker said in late September. “I’m not quite 100 percent yet, but I’m progressing like it’s supposed to and it’s been good.”
But the Achilles pain has yet to go away.