Hoopfest: Injury Slows Hansbrough

<b>BENTON, Ky. –</b> It was hard but he got through it. Tyler Hansbrough, the main attraction Thursday night at Marshall County's Hoopfest, watched as his Mules struggled through their first game of the season. Hansbrough sat out with an injury.

If you know anything about 6-9 Poplar Bluff (MO) High junior power forward Tyler Hansbrough, you probably have heard that he's a tough, gritty competitor. Armed with that knowledge, imagine how difficult it was for him to sit on the sidelines as his team dropped an opening round game to Paducah Tilghman High.

"I can't sit there anymore," Hansbrough said. "I've got to get better. It's hard to sit and watch."

Three weeks ago while running lines, he pushed off his left leg and strained his Achilles. His father, an orthopedic surgeon, is charged with getting him healthy and determining when he can come back.

In typical Tyler Hansbrough fashion, his timetable for the return is a short three days from now. "I'll probably start [rehab] tomorrow," he said. "It'll start off with aquatic therapy and then I'll start gradually making basketball cuts." Sounds like a multiple week process, right? Not according to Hansbrough. "Three days."

Whether his father signs off on that idea remains to be seen. Tyler thinks it's a blessing to have his dad in charge of his recovery. "It's good because I can talk him into letting me comeback."

If there's a more intense high school player out there we haven't seen him yet.

The ultimate competitor actually had clenched fists during the introductions because he was so pumped up. He wasn't even playing but he was prepared for the battle. Late in the game when a Poplar Bluff player fouled out, one could have almost pictured Hansbrough ripping off his sweats and checking into the game.

To find the genesis of this intensity, one has to look no further than his family. His father was a high jumper and he has an uncle who is two-time professional long drive champion.

Maybe you've clicked onto ESPN when one of those long drive exhibitions is in full swing and seen very big men tee up a golf ball, psyche themselves up, let out a few grunts and let it rip, oh 400 yards or so off the tee. Sean Fister, Tyler's uncle, is the longest driver of a golf ball in the world. His nickname? The Beast. The Florida graduate once drove a golf ball 515 yards.

Intensity, as you can plainly see, runs in the family.

Part of Hansbrough's three-day rehabilitation plan is due to the fact that North Carolina head coach Roy Williams will be in town on Monday to watch him play. Williams has been told that there's a chance he won't be able to go, but the UNC coach is expected to make the trip regardless.

Hansbrough said that he'll definitely visit three schools early. UNC, Florida and Duke are going to receive official visits. Arizona, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Michigan State are in the hunt for the other spots. A quick check of his recruiting timeline reveals that Missouri was the first to offer and that happened way back during his freshman season. Arizona was actually second.

"I kind of want to get [the decision done] early to get it over with. Then you can concentrate on getting better and not getting caught up in it all."

For Hansbrough, getting better recently consisted of getting bigger. He added 40 pounds to his frame and was all the way up to 245 before realizing it put too much strain on him so he dropped 20 extra pounds and is now comfortable at 225.

Whether or not he's ready for action on Monday remains to be seen. However, Poplar Bluff left Marshall County's Hoopfest right around midnight after the game. Hansbrough probably started rehab on the bus ride home.

Hoopfest Scoreboard

Carlisle Co. 70, Trigg Co. 64
Paducah Tilghman 54, Poplar Bluff 50

2004 Checklist

Brett Hoskins, F, Carlisle County: His 37 points made his the second-highest leading scorer in the event. He's probably not a Division I player but he'll be successful somewhere because he's tough and he can score. He battled inside for points and went 11-for-18 from the field and 12-for-15 from the line to go with 13 rebounds and 3 assists.

2006 Checklist

Jeremy Jones (left), PG, Trigg County: The 6-2 sophomore point guard scored 15 points in the loss to lead his team. He'll be a Division I player on some level. He's very fast with the basketball and wants to turn it up when he can. He made a few mid-range jumpers. His body is thin right now, but he's go a chance to be a low-to-mid level player.

News & Notes

Ben Hansbrough is Tyler's younger brother. The sophomore scored 14 points in the loss and played combo guard. … The Hoopfest lineup has been riddled with injuries. Hansbrough missed Thursday's games and more are expected to sit out on Friday, including talented junior swingman Josh Tabb of Century. … Xavier Price was supposed to play in the event but that was before he transferred from O'Fallon to Belleville West. … Oak Hill's practice drew a crowd of spectators that lined the baseline of the auxiliary gym. …

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