David Padgett returned to Kansas University's starting lineup Monday night against Missouri.
Health permitting, he'll stay there.
"David Padgett is our starter," KU men's basketball coach Bill Self said Wednesday.
Padgett, a freshman center who has started 12 games, missed two games because of a left foot injury and came off the bench four times to relieve senior Jeff Graves.
"That is not critical of Jeff, but David is definitely our starter unless he is injured or his foot starts bothering him," Self said. "That is not because of any turn of events. It is just the direction we are definitely going to go."
Padgett, who still wears a walking boot to prevent a stress fracture, would have subbed for a fifth straight game Monday had Graves not arrived late for a midafternoon shootaround.
Graves, who said car problems caused his tardiness, played well against Mizzou with four points and six boards in 21 minutes.
Padgett contributed six points with six boards in 26 minutes.
"Anybody would like to start," Padgett said, "but it was not a concern of mine if I wasn't starting. I was out two weeks. I didn't expect my spot handed back to me or anything. It was definitely good getting back in the starting lineup. It's fun."
Graves, who has started six games, said he enjoyed opening those games but accepted his role.
"Of course, everybody wants to start," said Graves, who averages 5.4 points and 4.6 boards compared to Padgett's 7.0 points and 5.3 boards, "but everybody also wants to help the team out. I'm looking at this as a positive."
Graves did some soul searching after KU's 68-61 loss Saturday to Iowa State.
"I kind of tried to reverse psychology," Graves said. "I went home after Iowa State and tried to turn it into a positive. I looked back at last year and said, 'How did I help the team out?' All I did was rebound and screen. It's what I hope to do for the team this year."
Self is asking for more from Padgett.
"Obviously I'm not one of the go-to guys, but he would like to see me average 10 points (or more) if I can," Padgett said. "It's an achievable goal."
Self thinks so.
"I would hope the rest of the way David could be a double-figure scorer and eight-rebound a game guy. We talked about that average in a worst-case scenario," Self said.
Padgett has practiced full-speed just three times since the Richmond game Jan. 22, but he said his foot was much better.
"He needs to be on the practice floor more. Until his foot gets well we will limit his reps everyday. He is not full speed yet," Self said.
Of wearing the boot, Padgett said: "I wear it to class and when I'm not playing to keep it from getting back to where it was."
Injury update: Aaron Miles, who sprained his right ankle against Missouri, said he was fine.
"I rehabbed it a little bit. It feels good," he said.
J.R. Giddens, who was hobbling late in the MU game after tweaking his right knee, said he was OK.
"It gave out on me. It does time to time. It has to get stronger," Giddens said of his knee. "I'm not injured or anything. It's a little boo-boo."
Case coming on: Jeremy Case played two productive minutes versus Missouri after receiving no minutes in five of six games.
"All freshmen could learn a lesson from Jeremy," Self said. "You come in with high expectations and play early because competition may allow you to. If you don't play well you can get frustrated and lose your confidence. Then you get in conference play and there are no more opportunities for experiments.
"You can either get frustrated or use every day in practice as a time to get better. He's done the latter. He may or may not play a lot, or even some. I do know one thing, he has a good look about him now."
Case senses he's played better.
"I believe it's defense and confidence, and getting more comfortable on the court," said Case, a 6-foot freshman. "I got down a little at first (not playing), but I thought, 'I'm a freshman. I'm going through what a lot of freshmen go through.' It's made me stronger."
No distractions: Self doesn't think the reprimand Texas Tech coach Bob Knight received for his role in an argument with Texas Tech's chancellor will have any effect on the Red Raiders when they visit KU at 3 p.m. Saturday.
"If there was a distraction then it probably was yesterday. I can't imaging there remotely being a distraction after today."
Point situation: Michael Lee played at point guard against Missouri, as Jeff Hawkins logged just two minutes.
"J-Hawk is more a point guard defensively and two-guard offensively," Self said. "We just don't need Aaron to ever get tired or get hurt. We'll do it by committee."
Legendary: Self is looking forward to going against coaching Hall of Famers Knight and Eddie Sutton in successive games. KU travels Monday to Oklahoma State.
"Intimidating?" Self said with a grin. "The thing about it is it's not like you are going to outfox the guy on the other end. It's not a worrying thing. It's certainly a very respectful thing. It doesn't make it easier to coach, but it certainly gets your batteries charged. This will be without out question the most memorable stretch of my career."
Knight and Sutton combined have won 1,566 games.
Self had one other memorable stretch of games his second year at Tulsa when his Hurricane played Fresno State (Jerry Tarkanian), Utah (Rick Majerus), College of Charleston (John Kresse) and Duke (Mike Krzyzewski) at the end of the season. Tulsa beat Fresno and Charleston and lost to Utah and Duke in that stretch.