Jalen Wilson back at practice, decision nearing on whether he’ll play this season

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) hangs up his arm after putting up a three over Fort Hays State guard Calvin Harrington (23) during the first half, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshman Jalen Wilson is back on the practice court, and a decision about his status for the season appears to be nearing.

“He practiced up and down a little bit the other day,” Self said of the 6-foot-8 freshman from Denton, Texas, who broke his left ankle during the first week of the season. “But I still think we’re a couple of weeks away from determining whether or not he’ll try to come back this year.”

Self added: “We’re trying to rush it because if he is going to play you want him playing as soon as possible.”

If the injured ankle allows it and Wilson and the Jayhawks can find a way to fit him into the rotation, Wilson’s chances seem good.

“I, personally, see value (in Wilson playing) and he wants to come back. His parents are good with him coming back,” Self said. “He could potentially help our team. But I’m not going to put him out there and lose this year unless I’m confident and he’s confident that he can be part of our rotation.”

The status of the rehabilitated left ankle is the biggest question surrounding Wilson at the moment. And Self said Monday that he has not seen enough to know definitively if the ankle is fully healed.

“When I say go up and down, I’m talking about, you know, a few possessions and block-out break or something like that,” Self said of the extent of Wilson’s time on the practice floor. “But we haven’t stressed him to the point to know if he is physically ready to help us.”

For the first time since the injury, Wilson went through shoot-around with the team prior to Tuesday’s win over Kansas State, taking jumpers and warming up in full uniform before the Jayhawks returned to the locker room for their final pregame instructions. Wilson did not suit up for the game.

Even when Wilson does fully return, Self said there would likely be a two- to three-week period of time when he would need to get his legs under him and find some kind of rhythm that clears the way for him to compete at the same level as his teammates.

That’s a physical issue, though. Mentally, Self said he thought Wilson would be fine.

“I think he’s really bright,” Self said. “So I think he’ll actually pick up on some stuff quickly. But that’s part of the two weeks, probably, letting him run with the first group and see if he can do it.

“We don’t even know yet if he’s 100% healthy. Part of that is conditioning, part of that is a lot of (other) things. He hasn’t even tested to the point where he knows that he can be explosive.”

Ranked No. 47 overall by Rivals.com in the 2019 class, Wilson committed to KU and signed with the Jayhawks in June after receiving a release from Michigan, where he had committed and signed, following former Michigan coach John Beilein leaving the Wolverines for the NBA.

Wilson picked Michigan over KU initially but said at the time that getting a second chance to sign with the Jayhawks felt a little like fate.

“I always asked myself, ‘What if Coach Beilein left?'” Wilson told the Journal-World in an interview in June. “So I was always prepared for that, and Kansas has always been in my mind.”


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