Villanova freshman guard Bryan Antoine has been cleared to begin practicing with the team, more than five months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, coach Jay Wright announced Thursday.
The 6-foot-5 Antoine, a McDonald’s All-American who was ranked in the top 20 high school prospects by all major recruiting services, played his entire senior season at The Ranney School in Tinton Falls, N.J., with a sore shoulder (he shoots right-handed) and had the injury diagnosed after he arrived at Villanova. He underwent surgery on May 31.
Antoine participated Thursday in his first full practice, saying he was “kind of nervous but also happy” because he had been sidelined since the surgery.
“I’ve seen them practice from the sidelines for about three or four months now and I kind of anticipated that the first five minutes I’d be out of breath and I wouldn’t be able to breathe,” he said. “But just playing out there with the guys and having them pushing me, it was just great to be out there.”
Wright said Antoine would be monitored closely since he has not played any basketball since last spring, though he has done some light shooting. He said there was no timetable on his return to game action and that he “won’t consider evaluating that possibility until after Thanksgiving.”
Wright called Antoine’s first day of practice “surprisingly good.”
“He doesn’t know a lot of what we’re doing but to be out that long and come back and play with that much intensity is a real tribute to how he worked,” he said.
At last month’s Big East media day, Wright was asked about the possibility of Antoine’s redshirting. Wright said he wanted to wait and see how the layoff affected him before considering it.
“We have a long way to go,” he said. “We’ll have to see how he does for a few weeks. You don’t know how he’s going to pick things up.”
Antoine averaged more than 20 points in all four of his seasons at Ranney, including a 21.3-point average in his senior year. He finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in the Shore Conference.