Today marks 133 days since Jae’Sean Tate went under the knife.
The Ohio State forward had surgery February 26 to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, an operation that forced him to miss the final three regular season games for the Buckeyes and all four of the team’s postseason games. Now Tate is more than four months into what was expected to be a six month recovery and when he spoke with the media today he indicated he still expects to make full return to basketball activities in August.
It’s the second time Tate has had to repair a torn labrum, having suffered the same injury in his left shoulder as a senior in high school. The forward said the fact that he had gone through the rehab before has made this process easier and allowed him to be more patient.
“This one wasn’t as painful because I knew what to expect,” Tate said. “Just going back to enjoying the process, not rushing into it, I think I had a better understanding of this and that’s made the time actually go by faster. Just not being so eager and just enjoying it, you know I’m just three, four weeks away from my goal.”
Thursday was a light workout for Tate in his rehab as he did some work with weights alongside team trainer Vince O’Brien.
The shoulder rehabilitation, which O’Brien confirmed is on track, is just one of two injuries Tate is rehabbing. The Pickerington native had an cartilage removed from his right ankle in a minor surgery about four weeks ago.
Tate, who addressed the media in a walking boot, said that he initially hurt the ankle when he came down on Marc Loving’s foot during a practice before last season. That injury forced him to miss the exhibition game with Walsh, but he was able to play through the season with the injury.
“So it’s just been an ongoing thing during the season,” Tate said. “It wasn’t like I needed it, but it was just annoying so I got with coach and the trainer and I’m not able to do full contact until August so might as well get both of them knocked out in the summer. I think it was good to do it now since I wasn’t able to practice and it’s just going to work out in the long run.”
The ankle injury hasn’t disrupted much of the shoulder rehabilitation, though it means Tate can’t currently take jump shots. He was able to work on his jumper starting about a month and a half ago, Tate said, and he continues to work on his form in the walking boot. The boot should be off sometime next week and he and O’ Brien will take things slow from there.
“This was just a side issue and shouldn’t really affect anything with the shoulder,” O’Brien said. “Everything is great, actually we’re very excited.”
For now, Tate is working out on Ohio State’s underwater treadmill in the bowels of the Schottenstein Center. His first workout was Thursday and lasted about 20 minutes and those workouts will continue throughout the month with O’Brien adding about five minutes to them each time, the trainer said.
The Buckeyes will be counting on Tate this season as the junior is the most experienced player Thad Matta has at his disposal aside from senior Marc Loving. The forward will be a third-year starter for Ohio State this season and expects to rejoin a starting lineup that is intact from the 2015-16 season.
Last year the Buckeyes were far better with Tate than without him. In the 28 games Tate played in Ohio State averaged 70.9 points per game and allowed 66.1. In seven without him the Buckeyes scored 68.1 points per game and allowed 75.6.
While it should be noted that the competition was consistently better in games without Tate – including three contests with Michigan State and one each with Florida and Iowa – it’s clear that the absence of the then-sophomore was felt, especially on the defensive end. Ohio State was also worse on the glass without Tate, hauling in 35.3 rebounds per game in the seven contests without him compared to 38.8 per game when he was playing.
Now Tate is focused on getting fully healthy for his junior season and not letting his injury prevent him from taking a step forward that each Ohio State player must take in order for the Buckeyes to avoid another trip to the NIT.
“Being injured you definitely have to be patient,” Tate said. You can’t rush into things and I think that helped me mature. Being able to sit on the practices and the lifting just to bring the freshmen along has been really good for me.”