Last Monday, Kenny Frease, who had his eye busted up while going for a rebound in a game on Feb. 3, was able to lace the sneakers up for the first time and practice.
"It was so tiring, I was real out of shape," Frease said. Scout.com has the five-star player ranked 25th overall in the 2008 recruiting class. "I can't wait to play, it's going to be awesome to get back out there and play with my teammates."
Frease also used the word awesome to describe his visit to South Bend, Ind. this past Saturday. With his father, uncle, cousin and two friends, Frease made the four-hour drive from Massillon to take in No. 23 Notre Dame's 85-73 victory over No. 16 Marquette. It was Frease's second time on campus, and he said he likes Kentucky, Xavier and Notre Dame equally.
"It was fun," Frease said. "The game was awesome to watch, and the student section was amazing. I liked going back to the locker room and talking with players and talking to coach (Mike) Brey again and (assistant) coach (Sean) Kearney again.
"The coaches were trying to get me to see all the excitement around Notre Dame and stuff when a basketball game is going on. I think the players were happy they could finish their home season out with a win.
Frease said that Brey and Kearney told him they like to find big men with good skills and just let them play.
"I think that would be a perfect situation for me," Frease said. "I like to play in the post mostly, but I do like to step out and shoot it."
Twenty-five times his sophomore season, Frease stepped out behind the 3-point line and drained 18 of them (72 percent). But most of the damage comes in the paint. In just eight games of action this year, Frease also missed the beginning of the season with a broken wrist, the 260-pounder averages 16 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and four assists.
Frease, who also has offers from big-time programs like Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State, hopes to take at least one more visit to each of his three favorites, and possibly a couple other schools, before announcing a decision in June. The next time the Irish coaches would like to see Frease on campus is the weekend of April 21 for the football team's Blue-Gold game ending spring camp.
"I just need to find out what the right fit is for me," Frease said. "Talk to some more players and coaches, and figure out what style of play is best for me. I'm looking for just a good basketball program, good academics, and just the feeling that it's the right place for me to stay for the next four years."
The thing that intrigues Frease and his 3.7 GPA the most about Notre Dame is the connections that could be made when it's time to enter the working world.
But all Frease is worried about right now is his return to the floor for tonight's playoff game. All the college stuff can wait for one night.