Soon to be Pain-free

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Ilustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson catches up with healing Springdale Har-Ber basketball star Michael Sanchez. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event on the Arkansas Toyota Dealers website. Click on a banner for details.

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In just about one month, Springdale Har-Ber basketball standout Michael Sanchez hopes to take the court competitively for the first time in six months, go through a practice and hopefully feel no pain.

That would be a big change from last season if it does happen.

"I don't even know what it is going to be like to play without pain," Sanchez said. "It's been so long since I have, I don't know what to expect."

Sanchez, a 6-8, 220-pound senior who is still deciding whether he will be a 2007 or 2008 prospect and thus go to college or a prep school, was offered a scholarship by Arkansas before his sophomore season and was ranked as one of the 50 top sophomores nationally by

But because of what turned out to be a severe case of patella tendonitis and a torn meniscus, Sanchez failed to make the jump developmentally that many expected during his junior season.

Sure he averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds - solid numbers – last season and got up to 15 different major college scholarship offers, but he seemed to be dragging his leg more often than not and not jumping with any explosion.

"The pain level was just hard to deal with," Sanchez said. "You wanted to play so bad, but it hurt so bad. It was just like someone sticking you in the tendon with a knife."

He played through the pain during his junior season as Har-Ber went 15-14 and lost in the opening round of the state tournament.

Sanchez also played in the Real Deal on the Hill event in Fayetteville in April before in essence he, his parents and doctors decided to shut him down for the rest of the AAU schedule and summer.

After meeting with a variety of doctors and athletes who have had similar issues, Sanchez and his parents decided on a non-evasive form of procedure called shockwave treatment.

"It is something that has been used a lot of in Europe, especially with soccer players," noted Kim Sanchez, Michael's mom and a former Lady Razorback standout. "It is not something that is done here in this country much at all, but we kept hearing about how it might be the best option. The best thing about it was that it was not surgery and if all went well, he would be back healthy in half the time he would from surgery."

Michael Sanchez, not that anxious to go under the knife with a procedure that could set him back even more, was all for the shockwave treatment.

"It just seem right and seemed the most comfortable," Sanchez said. "It seemed like the best procedure in that there wasn't anything to lose."

He was sure of it went he woke up from being under, something that he definitely is glad went along with the procedure.

"They put me under for the shockwave treatment," Sanchez said. "They had to. Each shock has 1,500 pulses. If I was awake it would have felt like a big hammer hitting me in the knee."

Sanchez is sporting three little puncture holes in his knee where the shockwave was applied by Fayetteville doctor Jason Pleimann.

"I got up and walked out of there," Sanchez said. "It seemed fine. I really haven't felt any pain since the surgery except for it just being sore right after the surgery. But I haven't been playing at all either so there is nothing to go on right now."

Since he hasn't been able to play, Sanchez has been working on catching the rest of his body back up.

"I have been doing physical therapy with my trainer – Mike Trexler at Fuel," Sanchez said. " He has been working on getting my quad and my hamstring and all the ligaments in my knee strong.

"I am feeling just really anxious to get back on the court," Sanchez said. "It's been six months now and I am just really looking forward to the day I get healthy and get to play."

It no doubt will also help that a meniscus tear that he wasn't aware he had has been repaired.

"I guess I tore that two years ago and we just never got that looked at," Sanchez said. "It's always been a little funky, but we didn't know I had tore it."

His goal – past obviously getting on the court – is teaming with UA commit Nate Rakestraw and other Wildcats to lead Har-Ber to a great season.

Har-Ber is set to play in the 64-team Trusted Choice Tournament of Champions in Peoria, Ill., over Thanksgiving and the Holiday Hoops event Dec. 7-9 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

He thinks that somewhere in January or February he should have an idea of whether he should take the prep school route for development reasons or just go ahead to college.

"As a player, I will do anything to get better," Sanchez said. "I want to be the best I possibly can and be in the best shape I possibly can when I go to college. There's no way I am ready to play right now with guys like (current Razorbacks) Steven Hill and Darian Townes and those kind of guys."

Sanchez will not sign early as he ponders which route to take.

"Right now I am 50-50 on that," Sanchez said. "It just depends on how I feel whenever I get out there on the court. I have lost a lot of time to train. It's been pretty much a year when you think about it since I have had my legs under me. It has really hindered my development and my chance to grow as a player."

He has his list down to "five or six" should he decide to go ahead to college next season.

"I don't want to put them out there yet," Sanchez said. "I'll just say Arkansas is still at the top."

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