ATHENS — This time last year, Juwan Parker was expecting to be as good as new, his surgically-repaired Achilles a problem that had been fixed. He would help his team get back to the NCAA tournament.
He didn’t end up playing a single game. The Achilles wasn’t better, it turned out, and Parker took a medical redshirt, watching his Georgia men’s basketball team miss out on the NCAAs.
So what happened? Parker said the problem wasn’t the surgery – it was the recovery, and what he called a “miscommunication” over when he should get back to playing basketball.
“We just had a little confusion with the timeline after the surgery, between me, coach (Mark) Fox and the surgeon, and the trainer at the time,” said Parker, a junior small forward. “We just had a miscommunication on where I’d be. So nothing really went wrong. There were really no setbacks or anything. We just had timing miscommunication.”
Parker had the surgery last spring, after missing the latter half of the 2014-15 season, his sophomore season. He got back to basketball activities too soon after that, as it turned out. While he was going through pain, Parker thought it was normal and would go away. But when he tried to play in the team’s first exhibition game, when he could tell he wasn’t back to normal. Then every time after that he tried to practice, the Achilles still had too much pain.
Looking back, according to Parker and Fox, the problem was in not realizing he was trying to return too fast, rather than let the Achilles heal more.
“We thought I’d be back and able to play a lot earlier than I was,” Parker said.
“I just think we had a report that it would be – I forget the exact weeks or months – but there’s a window, and we were maybe given the short end of that window,” Fox said. “But the window is really depending on each individual, and it’s a big window, and he ended up being maybe on the back end of that window.”
Parker said he no longer feels any pain, only some stiffness. He said he’s basically back to how he felt prior to the injury, which came during a game against LSU in Jan. 2015.
“Missing a little bit of explosiveness, but besides that no pain, which is all you can ask for,” Parker said.
Parker was a starter prior to the injury. As the small forward, he played solid in pretty much all facets: Rebounding, passing, defense, and enough scoring that the defense couldn’t lay off him.
“He’ll be that glue guy, that dude that when things are going wrong he can make something happen, make a play in a different type of way that won’t be in the box score,” senior point guard J.J. Frazier said. “You always need that guy, and I’m glad to see him back.”