After suffering a fractured left foot in OSU's victory against Iona on Dec. 17, Lighty was described as being out for six to 12 weeks. Thursday night, he had an X-ray to see how the screw inserted into his foot is coming along and how the bone is healing.
Although Matta said he had not yet seen the results of the exam, regardless of what the X-rays show Lighty still has some time ahead before he can return to the Buckeyes.
"The X-ray was nothing more than just to see where the screw was, where the bone was and what happens around it," Matta said. "I'm not a doctor, but the bone has to re-grow and cover up where the screw is. I think the screw will be in there permanently. They look how it is covering up."
From there, the plan going forward is to see how Lighty's foot begins to react to more use. To this point, all he has been able to do is shoot some free throws.
Matta stressed that Lighty would not be surprising anyone and appearing in, say, OSU's Saturday road game against Indiana (4 p.m., ESPN2).
"One of the biggest keys is how when you start with the first step, how does it respond?" Matta said. "Is there soreness? Is there swelling? We're a long way away."
In seven games this season, Lighty averaged 9.7 points in 32.9 minutes of action per game. The team's most experienced player, he mans the power forward spot in OSU's 3-2 match-up zone and uses his speed and athleticism to gain an advantage on bigger opponents.
Those characteristics also come into play when deciding when Lighty will be able to return to the court this season. If he does play this year, it will not be in a reduced sort of role, nor a less physically demanding one.
"One of the biggest things with David is how much can he do?" Matta said. "Would it be fair to David to say, ‘It's going to take you three weeks to get back?' I don't care who he is, he's not going to be in the type of shape he needs to be in to play. Is it a situation where he can only play in games but not practice? Well, he needs practice to get back. There's so many things we've got to look at."
Should his foot not fully recover, Lighty would be a candidate for a medical redshirt this season. However, if he is ready to go and the Buckeyes have just a handful of games remaining, they will not be able to hold him out and still apply for the redshirt at the end of the season, an OSU spokesperson said.
"I don't foresee him next week, and we don't play for another week," Matta said. "Maybe in two weeks he could, but right now the big thing is they were getting him something special for his feet, for his shoes. Hopefully he can shoot from side to side, that sort of thing."
For now, Lighty will be evaluated on a day-by-day basis to see how his foot is responding to rehab. Whether he will return this season will be decided in the coming days and weeks.