George, who has missed several games this season with a stress fracture to his right foot, appears to be making a nice recovery. And his return will be even more vital this weekend against Tennessee, as Ellis Myles (broken thumb) status is doubtful.
"He's fine, I guess a stress fracture heals microscopically," Louisville coach Rick Pitino explained. "It's going to be sore for the rest of the season but [his foot] is healing and getting better."
That George's foot has healed enough to allow him to return and contribute is good news for both Pitino and Cardinal fans. The fact that George is the Cardinals only frontcourt reserve with any size to speak of - 6-4 Perrin Johnson spelled both Ellis Myles and Tello Palacios in George's absence - makes his return to action that much more significant.
"Otis helps everybody defensively because his rotations are so quick helping out," Pitino said. "He's a shot blocker. On offense, he's a guy who screens and he's a real big part of our scheme. We need him."
"We were shorthanded up front as it was but to have one frontcourt substitute is like we hit the lotto," Pitino continued. "To have Otis George and be able to substitute properly is really special."
George made his return for Louisville's comeback 69-66 win on the road last weekend against then No. 18 Cincinnati. He contributed 6 points and 6 rebounds and Pitino said his team likely wouldn't have overcome a 17-point first half deficit without him.
"We would have lost that game by a large margin if we didn't have him available," Pitino said.
And he was excellent in a 92-41 rout of East Carolina Wednesday night, scoring 13 points, many off of impressive offensive rebound tip-ins, and pulling down ten rebounds.
"Having Otis back is important for us," Pitino said. "He's our best defensive player."
Sophomore guard Brandon Jenkins, who had a career-night against the Pirates with 14 points, said George's return was important because he helps erase his teammates mistakes.
"He's great," Jenkins said. "I'm glad he's back becuase he helps us so much. When one of us gets beat off the dribble he's right there to take a charge or block the shot."
And while both Pitino and his teammates are excited to have him back, no one is more happy than George to be back.
"I'm still a little rusty," George said. "But I think I'm back for the long haul."