Flashbacks gone: Brazile ready to face UNC-Greensboro again

By: Bob Holt Bob Holt's Twitter account
Published: Friday, November 17, 2023
Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile (2) is helped off of the court Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, by recruiting coordinator Ronnie Brewer and strength coach Dave Richardson (right), as trainer Matt Townsend leads the way after Brazile injured his leg during the first half of play in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
( Andy Shupe)
Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile (2) is helped off of the court Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, by recruiting coordinator Ronnie Brewer and strength coach Dave Richardson (right), as trainer Matt Townsend leads the way after Brazile injured his leg during the first half of play in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile will play the same team at the same place tonight where he suffered a season-ending knee injury less than a year ago.

The No. 14 Razorbacks (3-0) take on North Carolina-Greensboro (1-1) at 7 p.m. at Walton Arena 346 days after Brazile fell to the court as he drove to the basket in the first half of the game played on Dec. 6.

Arkansas won 65-58, but Brazile was done for the season after nine games. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and underwent surgery in late December.

A little more than 10 months later, Brazile is fully recovered, in the starting lineup and averaging 11.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots in 25 minutes. per game He has hit 11 of 16 shots, including 4 of 7 three-pointers, and 8 of 12 free throws.

Brazile, a 6-10 redshirt sophomore, physically looks like the same player who last season averaged 11.8 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds in 27 minutes and was projected as a potential first-round NBA Draft pick.

But how will Brazile mentally handle playing North Carolina-Greensboro tonight? Could he have flashbacks to last season’s injury?

“I hope not,” Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said. “I hope he just comes out and plays.

“I think it’s always hard for a player knowing there was an injury against a certain team, but I think he’ll be ready to play.

“The biggest thing that he’s done a great job of is playing fearless.”

During preseason camp in September, Brazile said he felt 100% physically, but was waiting until he felt 110% to take part in 5-on-5 drills.

Brazile played off the bench in the exhibition opener against Texas-Tyler on Oct. 20 and had 4 points, 3 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in 19 minutes in Arkansas’ 92-39 victory.

When the Razorbacks played No. 3 Purdue in an exhibition game before a sellout crowd at Walton Arena on Oct. 28, Brazile started and played 31 minutes as the Razorbacks won 81-77 in overtime. He finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. He hit 4 of 7 shots, including 2 of 4 three-pointers.

“Good player obviously,” Purdue Coach Matt Painter said. “He hit those threes and stretched us out.

“He plays hard and competes and has good athleticism, good length. If he can have the combination of rebounder, defender and a guy that can stretch the defense, I think that can really help them.”

Musselman said the matchup against the Boilermakers helped Brazile know he was ready for the season.

“This was great for him because it was a physical game,” Musselman said. “It was a game where you’re getting bumped and dislodged.”

After Brazile had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocked shots last Friday when the Razorbacks beat Gardner-Webb 86-68, he was asked if he felt 110% physically.

“I feel like I’m probably at 120 now,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been at 110 for a while, so I feel great.”

Arkansas guard Khalif Battle, a senior transfer from Temple, and senior forward Makhi Mitchell each had a broken foot last summer and spent time in physical therapy work with Brazile.

“Me, TB, and Khi were together just rehabbing all summer,” Battle said. “We didn’t get the same time [in summer workouts] as everybody else.

“We still haven’t even scratched the surface of our full potential.

“Mentally, TB is confident, and he’s a unicorn. God really took his time with TB. Making him tall, athletic, can shoot the ball, can put the ball on the floor, can defend.

“He has a lot of God-given talent, but he’s a great person. His mindset, he’s always focused when it comes to basketball. So he’s a great teammate.”

Junior guard Tramon Mark, a transfer from Houston, said he’s been impressed by how Brazile practices and plays.

“He’s a tough dude,” Mark said. “He comes ready to play every game. He comes ready to play even in practice. He’s almost like a pro.”

Against Texas Tyler, Brazile looked somewhat tentative when he came into the game with 14:40 to play in the first half. He had a turnover and missed two shots before finishing a drive for his first basket.

In the second half, Brazile totally knocked off the rust when he went high to rebound a missed shot by Jeremiah Davenport, gathered himself and dunked.

Brazile has had other impressive plays since then, most notably in the Razorbacks’ 86-77 victory over Old Dominion on Monday night when he caught a touch pass from Davonte Davis and dunked to finish a fastbreak.

“I feel like [Brazile’s] getting his swagger back as the days go on,” Arkansas senior forward Chandler Lawson said after the Purdue game.

Musselman said Brazile’s nine blocked shots the past two games are a good sign he’s not thinking about the knee injury.

“If it was in your head, so to speak, you wouldn’t have however many blocks he’s had,” Musselman said. “Because leaving your feet is where the fear might come in, and he leaves his feet a lot.”

Brazile also extended himself to catch a high pass from Battle, came down with the ball and fed Davis for a layup against Old Dominion.

”I almost had a turnover and TB bailed me out,” Battle said. “I was so thankful because I know Coach was looking at me crazy.

“You just throw it up in the air, whether it’s a jump shot, a pass, he’s going to go get it. He’s just a different animal on the athlete side alone, not even talking about his skill. His skill is out of this world. As an athlete, he’s out of this world as well.”


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