There’s one key question surrounding this Tennessee basketball team entering the season — when will point guard Zakai Zeigler return? And when he does, how long will it take him to be back to full strength?
Zeigler tore his ACL to open the month of March earlier this year. Now just a couple of weeks away from the new season beginning, Zeigler is pushing to play as quickly as possible. And from the sound of it, things have gone pretty well.
The junior point guard was spotted going through drills in late summer, and according to Coach Barnes, he’s been itching to get back to full speed. He’s not quite there just yet, however.
“We haven’t thought about it yet,” Barnes said when asked if Zeigler would play in the upcoming scrimmages. “He’s doing his part. He has from day one. But again, he hasn’t done anything with us up and down the court yet. And it’s really, to me it’s day to day.”
‘Up and down the court’ likely refers to full on scrimmaging with the team, but he has been able to go through various drills.
According to Zakai, the goal is to play Michigan State on October 29th. The Volunteers and Spartans are set for a scrimmage to benefit the Maui community.
“That’s the goal,” Zeigler said on Wednesday. “I would love to play against Michigan State. That would be what, a preseason top-10 matchup? So I would love to, but I’m just listening to the athletic trainers and to whatever they tell me.”
Tennessee officially opens the season on November 6th against Tennessee Tech. The first test will come November 10th at Wisconsin. The Volunteers will head to Honolulu for the Maui Invitational a little over a week after that, so Zeigler potentially still has a month to work back if the strength staff wants to take things slow.
Freddie Dilione and Jordan Gainey both worked at the point during Tennessee’s trip overseas this summer. Obviously Santiago Vescovi has plenty of experience handling the point as well.
We’ll see how things play out over the next couple of weeks.