Wisconsin Badgers point guard Traevon Jackson said Wednesday he will play in Thursday's Sweet 16 game against the North Carolina Tar Heels in Los Angeles.
Jackson has not played since fracturing his right foot in a Jan. 11 loss at Rutgers. The injury required surgery and Jackson has been rehabbing ever since. The senior had hoped to return to the lineup for the Badgers' last home game against Michigan State, but was not cleared to return to practice until after the Big Ten tournament.
"I've just been getting prepared," Jackson said. "I've been preparing my body and preparing mentally for the occasion, and if it comes here tomorrow, then I'll be ready."
Despite being cleared to practice before the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament, Jackson was not available to return. He returned to practice on Tuesday, though he was limited and officially ruled a game-time decision by UW.
Jackson said Wednesday that a reason for his delay in returning was feeling tentative while practicing.
"That [being tentative] was part of the reason why I waited to be patient throughout this time," Jackson said. "I wanted to be where I'm at mentally."
In Jackson's absence, the Badgers have hardly missed a beat thanks to the play of sophomore Bronson Koenig, who has averaged 12 points per game and posted a top assist-to-turnover ratio in the country since entering the starting lineup. Jackson's return would help Wisconsin's bench, which has been scrutinized for its lack of production, as well as the team's defense.
It of course remains to be seen how much Jackson will play. Wisconsin's coaches said Wednesday that his minutes would be limited.
Greg Gard said Jackson's minutes would be limited. Can't imagine he plays more than a handful. But big step in this national title chase.— Jesse Temple (@jessetemple) March 25, 2015
The Badgers will face the Tar Heels Thursday night in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. The game will be broadcast on TBS at 6:47 p.m. CT.
B5Q's Max Sternberg contributed reporting to this story from Los Angeles.