Kansas freshman Bryce Thompson has surgery on broken finger, exact timetable for return unknown

photo by: Associated Press

Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham dribbles past Kansas' Bryce Thompson during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Mitch Alcala)

Kansas freshman Bryce Thompson had surgery on his broken right index finger Thursday morning and a timetable for his return remains unknown.

Talking on his regular “Hawk Talk” radio show on Thursday night, Kansas coach Bill Self said Thompson’s surgery “went very, very well,” and added that a full recovery was expected. But the coaching staff does not yet know when Thompson will be able to rejoin the Jayhawks on the floor.

“There is going to be a natural period of time that has to take place to give it a chance to begin to heal,” Self said. “And then when it does, after two or three weeks, maybe he can get back in the gym and start shooting and things. But we don’t know if (his return is) going to be a month (away). We don’t know if it’ll be seven weeks. We don’t know right now.”

The post-Christmas portion of Thompson’s freshman season has been one to forget for the Thompson family.

Self revealed Thursday night that Thompson’s back injury — a cracked vertebrae in his lower back — occurred during the team’s first practice back from winter break.

After missing three games, Thompson returned to the lineup on Tuesday night against Oklahoma State and played 13 minutes and was a key part of the late comeback that nearly allowed Kansas to escape with a win.

“He moved well,” Self said. “I mean, there was absolutely no lingering effects of the back (injury).”

It was during KU’s late run, however, that Thompson broke the finger after diving on the floor for a loose ball.

“How about him putting his body out there,” Self said Thursday night. “That was maybe the most violent, unintentional hit that a kid can take. He’s laying flat on his face and a dude that weighs 260 pounds jumps directly on his head, going after the ball.”

Self said the contact did no further damage to Thompson’s back but added that trainers initially thought he broke his nose before realizing that it was the finger that took the worst of the scrum.

Asked how he was holding up mentally through all of the injury setbacks, Self said simply, “He’s human.”

“I think he’s probably a little down,” Self added. “And knowing that kid and that family, that down will probably last 48-72 hours. He may be hurting a little bit tonight, but he’s going to be fine.”

Self said he was disappointed for Thompson because of how competitive the KU freshman is.

“He wants to be out there so bad,” said Self, noting that Thompson, a Tulsa, Okla., native, asked to return for last weekend’s game against Oklahoma but was not yet cleared by doctors. “He needs the reps bad. But he’ll come back. He’s tough as nails.”

Kansas (10-3 overall, 4-2 Big 12) returns to action at 1 p.m. Saturday to take Iowa State (2-7, 0-5) at Allen Fieldhouse.


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