Virginia coach Tony Bennett says he probably won’t know until Saturday whether Jontel Evans can return to action in time for Sunday’s ACC season opener against North Carolina at John Paul Jones Arena.
The senior point guard has missed nine of Virginia’s 13 games this season, including the last four in a row, with a right foot injury that required surgery back in October.
“It’s been almost three months since the injury — I think he’s going to progress now,” said Bennett, speaking on his radio show on Wednesday evening. “He’s obviously out of the boot. He’s doing more and more. We’re just going to base it on his symptoms, how he feels. My hope is that he’ll have some good days of practice and just keep progressing and we’ll just kind of take it a day at a time and see where he’s at.
“I’d love to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to get to use him for this game Sunday.’ If he feels good enough, we’ll consider it because that would be great for us. If not, we’ll wait until he’s ready. But it’s that time to start moving in that direction now.”
Bennett sounded much more optimistic about Darion Atkins. The sophomore forward sat out the second half of Sunday's win over Wofford with a shin injury.
Bennett described Atkins ailment as “shin splints, some tenderness in his shin.”
“He wasn’t moving particularly well and struggled in practice [heading into the Wofford game],” Bennett said. “It’s one of those situations where I believe he’s going to be OK. But if a guy can’t go full [speed] or at least hard enough, then you don’t want to put him in that spot.
“And the way Mike [Tobey] was playing, he was giving us a good lift, so we just decided, ‘OK, we can rest Darion in this situation.’ But our hope is he’ll be alright for the upcoming games.”