The junior sprained his ankle in a scrimmage over a month ago and has not played in Georgia’s three games, all wins, this season.
“I’m still waiting on that decision by coach and our trainers,” Thompkins said. “That’s yet to be revealed.”
Thompkins, who led the team in scoring (17.7) and rebounding (8.3) last season, started shooting last week, Fox said. But he has yet to run up and down the court.
The Bulldogs are preparing to play in Orlando this weekend in the Old Spice Classic. The tournament will feature four games in four days, making Thompkins return less likely due to a lack of recovery time.
“When a guy hasn’t practiced—I haven’t seen him run up the court in a month, you know,” Fox said. “And when you do that, eventually when he’s cleared to do that, how’s he going to respond to it? The stress of, you know, playing a game is different than practice. Having to play one back-to-back, that’s probably a lot to ask.”
Having sprained his left ankle two years ago during his freshman season, Thompkins understands how to deal with the injury, he said.
His rehab has been up-and-down, but progress is now being made daily, he said.
“Running on treadmills, trying to take some of my body weight off, like running on air things, running in water,” Thompkins said. “I’m starting to do cutting and things like that. Like I said, it’s starting to get better every day.”
While it’s star player has been out, Georgia has squeaked by, winning three close contests. Georgia has found a way to win in Thompkins’ absence.
“Hopefully he’ll be back soon,” said junior Travis Leslie. “We’re just getting ready and waiting until he heals. Hopefully he can come back sooner than later.”
Even though Thompkins hasn’t played in a game this season, he’s been active from the bench in a makeshift coaching role. He’s been at every practice and walkthrough offering his support.
“The guys, they appreciate the things I have to say,” he said. “Sometimes I have to say it in a way that they don’t want me to, but they expect me to engage in practice, engage off the floor and I’ve done so to the best of my ability.”
While Thompkins’ return doesn’t appear likely for this weekend’s tournament, he is making progress. He should return some time in December, but the timetable still hasn’t been determined.
“Trey obviously wants to be back out there,” Fox said. “The key for us is getting him healthy, realizing it’s a long year and we won’t let him practice until he’s healthy enough to do so. We won’t let him play until he’s healthy enough to do so. I think they key is just everybody’s body responds differently. He’s had three or four days where he’s made great progress, and then he plateaus for a couple of days. Then he makes really good progress again. You know, it’s just a matter of him maintaining his patience, me maintaining my patience and our team continuing to play. And then hopefully we get him back. Hopefully we get him back soon. Until then we’re doing with what we have.”
Surgery in Nolte’s future
Junior forward Conner Nolte broke his nose early in Georgia’s win over Saint Louis.
He remained in the game finishing with three rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Nolte will wear a protective mask during this weekend’s Old Spice Classic, but surgery is required to repair the injury.
Nolte has started all three games this season.
“We’re going to delay that for a few days, just because I don’t want to be the starting power forward,” Fox said tongue in cheek. “You know, it’s part of the game, and we’re going to have to adjust to it. We’re going to have to adjust, and our trainers are working full time.”
With Thompkins out, Nolte’s injury puts even greater strain on an injury-riddled frontcourt. Nolte will play this weekend, and most likely have surgery next week.
“We’ll probably limit Conner’s contact in practice with his situation because we’re getting so thin up there,” Fox said. “…I believe he’s going to have surgery as soon as we get back from Orlando. He will remain in a mask for a while. I don’t know if after the surgery if he’ll miss any games or not. I think we’ll wait and see how that goes.”
Georgia has managed three close wins in Thompkins absence, winning by a combined 13 points this season.
Pulling out close wins should pay off as the Bulldogs’ schedule plays out, Fox said.
“We’ve had three games that will hopefully help us down the road,” Fox said. “We haven’t had any garbage time. We’ve had some, you know, we’ve had 120 minutes of competitive games. And especially without Trey…we’ve had some battles, and hopefully that will prove advantageous later on.”
“Does it look like I’ve put on weight? All right. I always worry about that. No, conditioning is a huge thing. That’s probably the most important thing about this level. The game is so much faster than high school. Obviously, you can tell. I had to figure that out the hard way. Now I know to let myself get back to where I was.” Trey Thompkins on his conditioning.