As a senior at Clay High School in Portsmouth, Oh., Thoroughman tore the meniscus in his knee, which required surgery and knocked him out of most of his senior season. So, when he learned he had torn his medial collateral ligament (MCL) and dislocated his patella during an offseason pickup game, he feared the worst. Just the description of his injury sounded much more severe than the one he sustained as a high schooler, and the first thoughts had to be of another year spent recovering from the surgeon's knife.
In something of a surprise, however, the injury was not as bad as first feared, and Thoroughman set out on the road to recovery through a rigorous rehabilitation program. He has worked so hard, and the knee has responded so well, that he might be back on the court before the month is out.
"Everything is going good," Thoroughman said during WVU's Mountaineer Madness event. "I've started doing some things out here on the court. I started doing some lateral movement (on Thursday), and that went well. I'm hoping maybe a couple more weeks until I can go full out. I go to the doctor next Wednesday to see if he will release me for full action."
While that release will certainly be a milestone on his journey back to full health, it won't be the last one. Although he has been lifting and working on his upper body strength, Thoroughman will have to work to get into game shape, and then into the condition required by head coach Bob Huggins' frenetic style. With teammates who have been doing just that for a couple of months, he has catch-up work to do, but is looking forward to the challenge. He has seen how some of his teammates have taken to Huggins Hoops, and is eager to join the fray.
"I think everybody is doing really well," he said of his observations of the team's four-person workouts, which are now expanded to full-team sessions. "I have seen some guys playing really well in Huggins' style of play, if you know what I mean. They are doing better with this style than the last style."
That observation might come as a surprise to some, who viewed the entire WVU roster as being suited to John Beilein's system. However, as several players have noted, there is basketball talent, not just talent suited to a specific system, on this Mountaineer team, and the squad is taking it as something of a personal challenge to show that their skills were just as responsible as the Beilein system for West Virginia's success over the past few years.
For Thoroughman, the chance to show what he can do is still at least a fortnight away, perhaps more.
"It's definitely frustrating," he said of being sidelined for the opening of practice. "You have to sit there and watch and just try to be prepared for when you get in there. But I think I will love playing this hardnosed style. I can't wait to get in there, work hard, and mix it up."
With plenty of frontcourt time available for players that are able to scrap, defend and rebound in the lane, Thoroughman will be trying to make the transition from the perimeter-oriented player he was previously to a rugged inside force. Although he will be behind a bit as the season begins, he certainly has the chance to mirror Huggins' promise that "this team will be better at the end of the year than at the beginning."