TUALATIN -- On Friday Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum was cleared to practice for the first time since fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot during training camp.
“I feel good,” McCollum told CSNNW.com. “It’s fun to play, man. It’s fun to play the game you love. We put a calendar together a little while ago so I knew that we had a system in place for me to progress to this position. It’s good to be here.”
There is still no timetable on when he’ll make his NBA debut.
“Hopefully soon,” he said.
McCollum says around Christmas was always the goal of when he might return to full contact practice depending on if rehabilitation went as planned. He’s pain free and on yesterday, he cleared his target playing weight.
That opened the door for his return.
“I’ve been doing really well, obviously pain free,” he said. “Just kind of seeing how my foot reacts to stuff. I had a good four or five days where I was doing impact everyday to see how I would recover. We got the heart monitors and the sleep monitors to see how my sleep fluctuates with the travel. I’ve been doing pretty so l we wanted to test it out today.”
His explosiveness is coming back. McCollum has been dunking for a few weeks now, and said he probably could have been dunking sooner if he attempted to do so.
Head coach Terry Stotts said McCollum looked good in his first practice today, but added that this is essentially training camp for him and stresses that it’s up to McCollum to catch up.
“I’m not worried about getting him rotated in,” Stotts said. “Right now my focus is for him to get comfortable on the court again. He’s a basketball player and I don’t want to slot him in a position. He’s very versatile, but this is basically his training camp. He just has to make the progress that he needs to make on both ends of the floor.”
When McCollum broke the same foot in college at Lehigh University in January, he had surgery and was in a boot for eight weeks. He didn’t get cleared to play until around the time the Chicago Pre-Draft Combine had approached.
It’s been a little over two months since his non-surgical ultra sound procedure in North Carolina. He is way ahead of his first rehab stint. The moment when he subs into a real game is just around the corner. And he’s excited.
“I’m more anxious to get out there,” McCollum said. “I’ve worked extremely hard to get back and now it’s finally happening. I can’t wait.”