Virginia Coach Tony Bennett isn’t exactly sure when point guard Jontel Evans will return to the lineup, but he’s intent on this being the last time his senior leader misses action due to the offseason foot surgery that has limited Evans thus far this season.
Bennett said Tuesday that X-rays on Evans’s foot did not reveal a new break of the fifth metatarsal bone and that the screw he had inserted to support the injured area remains in good shape. But Evans came up limping and missed most of the second half in Virginia’s win over Tennessee last week. He then did not play in the Cavaliers’ victory over Mississippi Valley State this past weekend.
“Our hope is that we’re smart with it, we get to where that bone is fully healed and as more time goes by, it gets stronger and stronger and we won’t have this stop again, start again process that he’s experienced twice,” Bennett said.
“Again, the fact that he was feeling good and practicing, that’s why he played. There’s not a problem there. He caught it a certain way in that game, and I think as time goes by, that’ll be less likely to happen because the screw’s intact and everything looks good.”
Evans also missed Virginia’s first two games of the year before returning to the court when the Cavaliers lost to Delaware last month. But Evans suffered a setback soon thereafter and was forced to sit out Virginia’s ensuing three games.
He returned in time to appear in the Cavaliers’ win at Wisconsin, and looked rusty. But Evans appeared to be turning a corner when he dished out seven assists in a win over Green Bay. He was inserted into the starting lineup and had four points and four assists before leaving the Tennessee game.
With Evans sidelined, Virginia has turned to freshman Teven Jones. He’s averaging 4.1 points and 2.4 assists per game. Bennett said there is no timetable on when Evans could return at this point, but noted Evans will likely have weekly X-rays to monitor how the bone is healing.
The good news is that Virginia doesn’t play again until a Dec. 19 matchup with Morgan State due to finals week and has no power conference opponents remaining on its schedule before beginning league play next month.
“Hopefully this will get him over the hump,” Bennett said. “As far as ACC play, it’s really about his symptoms, how he feels, how he handles practice. If there’s any little issues he’s feeling, we’ll probably slow him down.”