MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia University’s Brandon Watkins suffered a knee injury against the Kansas State Wildcats on Feb.11, where he scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Watkins was having the best game of his career in a Mountaineer uniform when injured.
He had surgery in Cincinnati, Ohio, where doctors performed total reconstruction to repair a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in Watkins’ knee in late May.
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward is on the mend, but still unsure of his status this season.
“Everything is going well,” he said. “I had a test the other day and the numbers were pretty good. They say I have like a month left so I’m just working as hard as I can and see how I feel when the season starts.”
If Watkins is unable to go this season, the junior will redshirt and have two years of eligibility left.
“Hopefully I will be able to play this year, and if not then I understand that,” he said. “It will give me a year to work on my game and stuff like that. So either way it’s a win-win to me.”
The typical timetable for an ACL repair is six to nine months, but Watkins feels like he healed quicker than usual.
“For the most part, I thought I wouldn’t be able to start getting on the court around this time, but you see I am out there now,” Watkins said.
The Decatur, Ga. native played in 32 of WVU’s 33 games as a true freshman in the 2013-14 season, averaging 2.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and a team-high 0.75 blocked shots per game.
Watkins sophomore season was a challenge for him. He was diagnosed with mono just before the start of the 2014-15 regular season, sidelining him for WVU’s first seven games.
Watkins returned to the lineup in early December but had lost nearly 20
pounds. The junior was getting his groove back when he suffered the knee injury.
“My knee has always been hurting, but I always just thought that it was like growing pains or whatever, just arthritis,” he said. “But Kansas State, I was just playing because I had the feel for it so I didn’t want to let that end that quick. It got sore at the end of the game where I was like I can’t walk on it, couldn’t put to much pressure on it. That’s why I wasn’t on the bench at the end of the game. ”
Watkins missed a few games, but returned for final stretch of the season, including the NCAA Tournament. He was forced to wear a knee brace and was limited to 23 minutes of action.
“I wanted to be out there every game,” Watkins said. “My time went down crazy and I really wasn’t playing that much in the beginning of the year so it was just killing me.”
If Watkins had the surgery when he suffered the injury, he may be ready to go now, but he wanted to experience every moment of the team’s success.
“I really wanted to get surgery during, but we were on a good roll and I wanted to be a part of the team, be able to practice and just do fun stuff with the team,” Watkins said. “So that’s why I waited.”
Watkins is still determined to get on the court this season.
“As of now, I have just been doing offensive stuff,” he said of what he is allowed to do. “Really just lifting weights for my left leg and I am starting to get in a little more every day, but as of now, I am still just taking it slow.”
As much as Watkins would love to suit up and go on Friday when the Mountaineers open the regular season, he knows he can’t do it.
“I am not in game shape,” he said. “I can do suicides and stuff, but to physically be in there and push around with big guys and be able to run up and down the court, I am not at that level yet.”
Watkins is hoping to know sometime in December on whether or not he can go this season.