AUBURN, Ala. — It could have been much worse.
Of course, there’s never an ideal time for an injury, especially when it involves Auburn sophomore Austin Wiley. Still, the news that the Bruce Pearl’s star underclassman suffered a stress fracture during the FIBA World Cup wasn’t quite as tragic as it could have been.
Wiley will miss 4-6 weeks, several practices and four games abroad, but he will not require surgery.
“You know, I’m a glass-half-full guy,” Pearl said on Monday afternoon. “I’m hoping we’re playing in March, a couple weeks into March, whatever it is. It’s a long year.”
The boot Wiley wore Monday is coming on and off, which means he won’t be completely inactive in the coming weeks. He’ll be busy in the weight room and elsewhere — lifting, shooting, resting, stretching and “working on other aspects of his strength and game,” Pearl said.
Wiley also will join the team’s upcoming trip to Italy in August even though he won’t play. Pearl sees a chance for other post players, especially Chuma Okeke and Horace Spencer, to get significant playing time overseas.
Okeke, an incoming freshman who generated buzz of his own with Team USA in Colorado Springs, Colo., is “100 percent” according to Pearl. He “probably could have gone to to Egypt and played” with Team USA, but instead took more time off to recover.
Pearl has been vocal about the success he expects his team to have during the 2017-18 season. Those plans, as well as the ones to emphasize Wiley’s larger role aren’t changing anytime soon.