Jae'Sean Tate is back with the Buckeyes.
The forward, who had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder Feb. 26, has hardly been around the team since that operation and was not on the bench for any of the games he has missed. When Tate spoke to the media Wednesday he said he has been cleared to travel and will be able to watch the Buckeyes from the bench in the Big Ten Tournament.
While that's good news for the sophomore, it's only a small consolation.
"It's killing me," Tate said of being forced to watch the Buckeyes. "Especially just being at home watching on TV. It’s totally different from being on the bench or playing when you watch at home. Of course I want to be out there with my team, I am just glad that I am able to be on the trip, to be with the guys on the bench, let them know what I see and help them out."
The sophomore, who addressed the media with his right shoulder in a sling, is expected to take six months to fully recover from the injury. Tate is familiar with the process, having suffered teh same injury in his left shoulder during his senior year in high school. He gained 16 pounds during that rehab, he said, though he vowed to not let that happen this time around.
The injury had been lingering for a while before the surgery, and first started bothering him in practices leading up to Ohio State's Feb. 9 home game against Northwestern, he said. Though he would play in four more games -- Northwestern, Rutgers, Michigan and Nebraska -- and average 15 points and 9 rebounds in those contests, the injury worsened. It all came to a head against the Cornhuskers, though Tate confirmed it wasn't on the now-infamous floor slap.
Though he was playing well through the pain, an MRI revealed surgery was immenient and the wisest move would be to shut down the forward. Tate admitted it had been limiting his abilities.
"There were a couple of rebounds I could have got, but I was just scared that my shoulder would pop out," Tate said. "I just went out there and did what I could, and that might have been just making sure I box out, let a teammate get the rebound or just being smart."
The Buckeyes would love to have Tate's presence on the court, but his sophomore season came to a close with him averaging 11.7 points and 6.4 rebounds. Thad Matta said that simply having him on the bench is a plus.
"JT is one of those guys where you enjoy being around him, our guys enjoy being around him, I enjoy being around him," the coach said. "Seeing his arm in a sling, knowing what he gave us when he was injured, I hope is motivational for our guys.”
Ohio State won't have Tate at its disposal until next season as he begins his long recovery.
"I feel even stronger than I did the first time so I think that being able to go through it one time, I am prepared for it," Tate said of his recovery. "It being my main hand, my body kind is kind of already strong on that side. Looking at it from a time table frame, you definitely don’t want to rush into anything to have it happen again. We are just going to take it slow, I will be able to go back into contact in August/July. I will be able to work out here in a month or two, non-contact."