Terry Henderson was supposed to be in a leading role for NC State's backcourt this season. Instead, the West Virginia transfer is just trying to move laterally through pain and cut without limping during limited practice drills.
The 6-foot-5 junior guard is recovering from a serious opening-night ankle injury that required surgery, but time is running out for him to make it back as NC State pushes into the final full month of the regular season. Even Henderson is unsure when -- or whether -- he will make it back this season.
"I really don't know," Henderson said. "If I knew, I'd tell you. For me to be able to go 100 percent and help this team ... I know it's going to take a lot from where I can now to do that."
Henderson played seven minutes against William & Mary on Nov. 13 before tearing ligaments in his right ankle. He had surgery about a week later for an injury projected to keep him out at least six to eight weeks.
Friday marks 12 weeks since he was hurt. While Henderson is able to run straight-line sprints and shoot, coach Mark Gottfried has said there is still no timetable for Henderson's return.
"We're inserting him in some drills here and there, mostly dummy drills where it's not full contact and not live," Gottfried said. "He still to me has a very noticeable limp and favors his leg. ... I don't think he's close right now. I don't know what day it's going to be, but he's not anywhere near me putting him in a basketball game."
Henderson was projected to provide backcourt scoring and outside shooting after averaging 11.7 points per game and shooting 38 percent from 3-point range in his final season with the Mountaineers before sitting out last season as a transfer.
The Wolfpack (12-11, 2-8 ACC) entered the season with nine scholarship players, and Henderson's injury has left a heavy burden on high-scoring point guard Anthony Barber to carry the perimeter offense. The school has also researched a possible appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year if Henderson can't return this season.
"I'm just ready to get back on the floor and help my teammates and do whatever I can," Henderson said. "It's sad, but in the whole game of life, this is something really small compared to what people go through."