BROOKLYN, N.Y. – While Kenny Williams is no longer on crutches following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, his rehab progress has not improved the chances of his return to the lineup this postseason.
“At this point, I doubt it, just because the rehab is going to be a little bit slow,” Williams said following North Carolina’s 78-53 win over Miami in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
The sophomore guard, who started 22 games this season, was cleared to walk without crutches this week. It’s currently at his discretion as to how much he uses his crutches, which he’s trying to keep at a minimum.
Williams tore his meniscus before practice on Feb. 14. The Midlothian, Va. native said he “took a bad step” during warmups and his right knee locked up on him. Roy Williams announced a four-to-six week recovery period for his starting two-guard following UNC’s win at N.C. State on Feb. 15, adding that Williams was likely out for the season. Surgery was performed on Feb. 21.
Four weeks from the surgery date is March 21, which is two days before the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 begins.
Since his surgery, Williams’s primary rehab focus has been strengthening and increasing the range of motion in his right knee.
“After the surgery I had two weeks where it was just locked in straight,” Williams said, “so I’ve just been trying to get back to being able to bend it as much as I want to and getting my strength back in my leg.”
Not being on the floor during the Tar Heels’ run to the ACC regular season title and the top seed in the ACC Tournament has been a difficult adjustment for the former four-star recruit.
“It’s been disappointing just because you want to be out there with everybody,” Williams said. “That’s the disappointing part, but I’ve tried to keep it internalized and not let it show when I’m on the court or when I’m in the locker room because these guys are still playing and I still have to support my teammates.”
Williams, lauded by his head coach as UNC’s top perimeter defender, averaged 6.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 26 games this season. He won defensive player of the game on five occasions.