After missing the 2021-22 season with a hamstring injury, CJ Fredrick is planning to make his unofficial Kentucky basketball debut in the Bahamas.
The 6-foot-5 sharpshooter out of Cincinnati is back on the practice floor for the Wildcats and says he is on track to suit up in Kentucky’s four-game exhibition tour in the Bahamas in August.
“Yeah (I expect to play),” he told KSR on Thursday. “If we do a two-and-a-half-hour practice, I’m not gonna be doing the whole two-and-a-half hours, five-on-five. I’m just slowly, gradually getting to the point where I can do that, but I’m still doing a lot of things right now.”
His return to the floor comes after playing just 52 games in four years of college, dating back all the way to 2018-19 at Iowa. He has battled plantar fasciitis and also had a minor clean-up surgery done on his leg last July. His hamstring injury, which required season-ending surgery, though, was his most difficult ailment to overcome mentally.
“This second injury was definitely harder mentally because I had just finished rehabbing my first one,” said Fredrick. “I’ve never had to miss an entire season playing basketball. Not being able to play for a whole year definitely was mentally hard on me because I love the game so much. But I’m in a really good spot. … You learn to appreciate everything, you know? You appreciate your legs. I definitely have a much bigger appreciation for my body and how I use it.”
For the most part, the rehab process is now over for Fredrick. Now, his focus is on building strength, working on conditioning and avoiding soreness. Beyond that, though, it’s back to normal overall.
“I really don’t do much rehab anymore,” he said. “Just treatments after practice, making sure that I come in before practice and get a good stretch. After practice, make sure that any soreness (I have) is out. But I’m back practicing.”
What does Fredrick hope to prove when he returns to game action in the Bahamas?
“Well, I hope they see someone that just play super, super hard. Someone that’s gonna make shots and just compete on both ends of the floor, make the right play always. And just help the team.”
As a team, Fredrick hopes the Wildcats prove what he knows they are capable of doing against older, professional competition. It’s an experience he’s certainly looking forward to.
“I expect our team to just go out there and compete,” he said. “You know, it’s good for a lot of reasons. You’re playing older guys, playing some professional teams, dudes that make money and provide for their family. It’s not going to be just ‘go tip the ball, it’s going to be fun.’ No, it’s against dudes making money. It’s a living for them, so it’s gonna be good competition for us. It’s an early test to see where we’re at.”