ATHENS - Juwan Parker took a few shots on the basketball court Monday, a small step as Georgia awaits the return of its starting small forward.
Parker has missed the past seven games, and eight of the past nine, with a nagging achilles injury. He's not expected to regain full health this season, but it's the past the point of a medical redshirt, and his team is in contention, so the aim is to get him back eventually.
Parker initially missed just one game with the achilles injury, but when he tried to return at LSU he aggravated it. Since then the team has been taking it very slow with him.
"We have one chance with Juwan, we really one chance to bring him back and hope we bring him back when he can get through the year," head coach Mark Fox said. "What we cannot afford to do with Juwan is bring him back too early and have another month setback. Because that would then end his season. So we've gotta be very careful."
Georgia (15-7 overall, 6-4 in the SEC) has a tough game Wednesday night at Texas A&M (16-6, 7-3). Parker won't be there for that game, and there still isn't a timetable for his return, and even then he'll be brought along slowly.
Parker may only be the team's sixth-leading scorer (5.5 points per game), but he had emerged as a key player. He was averaging 22.7 minutes and 4.0 rebounds per game, playing solid defense, and committed few turnovers.
The Bulldogs have dealt with a number of injuries this year, including a recent two-game absence because of a concussion from Marcus Thornton, the team's leading scorer and rebounder. The Bulldogs lost both games, then got Thornton back for last Saturday's win over Tennessee. Small forward Kenny Paul Geno remains out with a wrist injury sustained the first week of SEC play. Freshman forward Yante Maten missed one game because of a concussion.
Fox opined that the injuries have "rattled" his team, with the Parker and Geno absences wearing down the team a bit.
"Just really in the last couple of days have I felt like, OK, our team is about to get through it," Fox said. "And hopefully we'll get those guys back soon."