COLUMBIA, S.C. – Sedee Keita’s freshman season at South Carolina took longer to get started than expected.
But now the freshman forward is back from a wrist injury that derailed the start of his first season, carving out a role in the South Carolina frontcourt and seeing more minutes from coach Frank Martin of late.
“It has definitely been a long road rehabbing for a few months, then jumping into play,” Keita said. “I’m trying to get into game shape, learning the plays, learning what Frank needs me to do and stuff like that.”
Keita, a 6-foot-9 forward, suffered a right wrist injury in June after he arrived at South Carolina after taking a hard fall. It cost him a summer’s worth of practice, the chance to play in South Carolina’s preseason trip to Costa Rica and the first four games of the year.
Keita returned to action for the first time in mid-November, practicing for the first time leading into South Carolina’s biggest week of the nonconference season when it faced Michigan and Syracuse.
The speed of the college game was flying at first for the Philadelphia native, who played 8 minutes in South Carolina’s 61-46 upset against then-No. 25 Michigan.
“I think I had practiced two times or something like that,” he said. “I knew some of the plays, but when you’re in the game, it’s different. … I was just really focused on playing defense. That really helped me out. I wasn’t worried about the offensive end. I was just worried about playing defense.”
Keita has seen his minutes rise since his debut against Michigan, which came just days after Martin said the freshman was cleared to practice. Keita averages 14 minutes per game and has scored 5.0 points per game in the past three games.
“I think I need to learn all our sets down pat,” Keita said. “So I can be effective on the offensive end with the team and to know what we are doing on the defensive end at all times. I think we will be alright.”
Keita said his wrist is feeling “a lot better” these days. It’s just a matter of continuing to improve and see his role expand as the season grows older.
“I feel a little bit more settled in,” he said. “But there’s definitely a lot of work still to be done.”