Arizona Athletics

Alkins could return to face Alabama on Saturday

Help could be on its way for the Arizona men’s basketball program. It’ll come in the form forward Rawle Alkins, who if he has two good practices in the next two days, Arizona coach Sean Miller said he’ll likely play his sophomore against Alabama on Saturday.

Miller said when Alkins suffered a broken foot it would be an eight-to-12 week rehabilitation process. He is now at 11 weeks. How much he plays Miller said “will remain to be seen.”

“The No. 1 thing (now) is that we don’t rush him back,” Miller said Thursday afternoon. UA does not want to risk further injury. They don’t want to “go from nothing to full blast.”

Miller added Alkins is ready physically.

He’s practiced three times recently and has been eased in. “He’s in better shape than he was prior to getting hurt,” Miller said, adding his body fat and weight are down. “He worked really hard and that’s a tremendous credit to him.”

Miller said don’t expect Alkins to be “the best version he can be because it’s going to take him a little of time and he knows that.”

Miller said he’s hopeful Alkins will be able “to hit his stride” after Christmas, just into the Pac-12 Conference season begins.

Miller said the challenge now will be to attempt to fit Alkins in the lineup – he won’t start – but should have an impact right away given his talent. There is a sense Alkins return will give UA the same boost Allonzo Trier did last season when he returned from suspension midway through the season.

“No question,” Miller said when asked about the boost. “One of the reasons our basketball team was so well thought of before us playing a game was who we returned from a year ago. Not just who we were bringing in. Rawle was a big part of that.

“He gives us a physical presence – both rebounding no defense and offense and defending whoever he defends.”

He averaged 10.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

What comes of the others at the same position is anyone’s guess, but Miller acknowledged Emmanuel Akot, Dylan Smith, Brando Randolph and Ira Lee have all improved.

“Brandon has proved to us he can score,” Miller said. “All of our players – now that we’ve played as many games as we’ve had – all those guys are more about how they will play in games moving forward and how we see them every day.”

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