Virginia point guard Jontel Evans is no longer wearing a walking boot, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be ready for Sunday’s ACC opener against North Carolina.
On a Thursday afternoon teleconference, Cavaliers Coach Tony Bennett said it was “hard to say” whether the senior would be healthy enough to face the Tar Heels. Evans has begun individual workouts again, but has yet to practice with the team since tweaking a right foot injury last month in a win over Tennessee.
Bennett will make a decision based on how Evans progresses over the coming days, but he is holding out hope that the Cavaliers’ senior captain could be available.
Evans has missed nine games this season, including the past four contests, after X-rays revealed no further damage to his surgically repaired foot. After the Hampton, Va., native aggravated the injury against the Volunteers, Bennett and Virginia’s medical staff decided to take a more cautious approach going forward in order to ensure Evans would come back completely healthy.
The Cavaliers have gone 7-2 with Evans out of the lineup, and won eight straight games with redshirt freshman Teven Jones filling in at point guard. But Evans’s defense – he was a member of the ACC’s all-defensive team last year — was sorely missed when Virginia was upset by Old Dominion, 63-61, last month in Richmond.
Bennett also said Thursday that forward Darion Atkins (Landon) has been battling shin splints in recent weeks. The sophomore forward missed the second half of Virginia’s win over Wofford last week, but Bennett does not consider the ailment serious at this time.
“You just kind of fight through it and … it shouldn’t get any worse,” Bennett said of Atkins. “If we’re smart with what we do with it, he’ll work through that and he’ll be able to keep blocking shots.”