For 36 minutes Saturday night during the University of Louisville's second Red-White scrimmage of the preseason, 6-foot-11 sophomore David Padgett proved exactly what the doctor ordered for the Cardinals frontcourt.
Now, Padgett will be spending more time with the team's doctors.
Padgett, who sat out last season after transferring from Kansas, missed the first month of practice and the Cardinals first exhibition game against Bellarmine after fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot in early September.
Finally recovered from that injury, Padgett returned to practice last Thursday, and Saturday's scrimmage, just one day after U of L coach Rick Pitino had proclaimed him 100 percent healthy, was his first public appearance in more than a year.
Now Padgett and the rest of the Cardinal basketball program will hold their collective breath while awaiting the results of Padgett's MRI on Sunday to determine the extent of the knee injury he suffered with 2:39 left in Saturday's scrimmage.
"David was playing terrific," said an obviously frustrated Pitino afterward. "Unfortunately, he's had a lot of injuries in high school and in college. We're just hoping for the best that it is only a sprain. We'll know tomorrow after we do an MRI. So that's what we have to hope for. Unfortunately, it's going to put him out three to six weeks, but if it's a sprain it will get better."
Padgett played 36 minutes for the Red, who won the scrimmage 86-72, and was a major force inside. He finished the scrimmage with 15 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists.
The injury occurred when Padgett got tangled with 6-10 sophomore Terrance Farley while battling for a rebound. Then, in an instant, Padgett lay on the ground in agonizing pain. Trainers rush out to the court, and Pitino joined seconds later. After a few moments on the ground, Farley and Huffman carried Padgett back to the training room.
As Padgett was attended to on the court and the crowd sat in silent disbelief, senior guard Taquan Dean sat dejected at the end of the court, while Terrence Williams sat beside the Cardinals injured center on the floor.
"When I saw him go down, I thought it was his foot again so I told him to sit and be calm," said junior guard Brandon Jenkins. "When I asked him what was wrong, he said he hit his knee and that he thought it was torn. But they think it's a light sprain, which we all hope it is."
"He makes everybody play better," continued Jenkins. "They out-rebounded us 27-15 and it was mostly all because of him. I think everybody could see how much he was going to help us. He's just frustrated because he keeps getting injured. We've just got to go out and play harder now."
Pitino said Padgett has had a history of knee problems dating back to his days as a high school star in Reno, Nevada.
"He separated both of his patellas in high school," said Pitino. "He's had a lot of injuries because he gets in situations that he shouldn't get into because of his balance. That's what he does poorly. But as you can see with his passing and running, he's a great player."
Pitino said the best case scenario for Padgett would be a knee sprain, in which case Padgett would be out 3-6 weeks. If the knee's ligaments are torn, though, Padgett would need surgery to repair the damage and could miss the entire season.
In Padgett's absence, Pitino will now turn to 6-9 redshirt freshman Brian Johnson, who sat out last season after undergoing season-ending knee surgery last November.
He's not in shape to play college basketball just yet, but there's nobody else to throw in there," said Pitino. "So he's going to have to step up and do it. Now that we've got this injury, we've got to go with as much experience as we can muster."