Strickland: 'Right on Schedule'

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Dexter Strickland's timetable to return to the basketball court is likely late August or September, according to a school official. The senior point guard was cleared to start running last week after tearing the ACL in his right knee on Jan. 19.

The Rahway, N.J. product injured his knee early in the second half of UNC's 82-68 victory at Virginia Tech as he drove to the basket. He underwent meniscus repair and reconstructive surgery on Feb. 9.

Strickland said on Thursday that his knee is "feeling better," although he's been limited in what he can actually do.

"I've been lifting with [strength and conditioning coach] Jonas [Sahratian] -- squatting, box jumps, just different stuff trying to get the strength back in my knee," Strickland said.

He is scheduled to meet with his doctor again on Monday with hopes of gaining further clearance to be able to start jumping and using more lateral movements.

"[Athletic trainer] Chris [Hirth] actually told me that I'm recovering fast, better than normal," Strickland said. "I'm right on schedule."

As expected, the rehab process was a grind as Strickland worked to regain the range of motion in his knee.

"Frustration, mentally, in knowing that I can't do things and trying to be patient and things like that was tough for me," he said. "I think I've come a long way and I still have a lot of improvement to do with the rehab, of course, but so far it's been good."

Strickland, however, points to something other than rehab as being the most challenging aspect of his recovery.

"The most difficult part is just being injured and watching the guys play pickup and not being able to work out with them," Strickland said. "Not being able to work on my game and get better, as far as jump shooting and different dribbling drills. That's been the most frustrating – not being able to be in the gym as much as I used to be."

With Kendall Marshall preparing for the NBA Draft and Stilman White preparing for his Mormon mission, head coach Roy Williams made it clear during his one-on-one offseason meeting that Strickland's primary focus would be the point guard position.

"I expect to play point guard way more than I did last year," Strickland said.

There may be some lingering rust for Strickland when North Carolina opens practice on Oct. 12, which falls roughly 4-8 weeks after his expected return to the court. On Wednesday, Leslie McDonald estimated it took him three months from that point to get back to 100 percent.

The three-month mark for Strickland would fall between UNC's season opener against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 10 and the ACC-Big Ten Challenge at Indiana on Nov. 27.

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