Kentucky Wildcat grad transfer Reid Travis has been a reliable centerpiece to John Calipari’s frontcourt. He made the leap from Stanford this past offseason in order to “to be a first-round pick.”
A knee sprain versus Missouri last week will sideline him for tonight’s home matchup with Arkansas (9 p.m. EST, SEC Network). It also has UK fans wondering about his return.
He averaged 18.5 points and 8.8 boards a game in his last two seasons in Palo Alto, making him a hot commodity on the grad transfer market this past summer. The All-Pac-12 first-teamer choose Kentucky after two visits this past June.
The 6-foot-8 senior now scores 11.3 points a game, while snagging 6.9 boards a night. He no longer shoulders the full load, as Calipari has paired him with fellow 6-foot-8 forward P.J. Washington (team-leading 15.2 points and 7.9 rebounds a contest).
With the Wildcats in a three-way tie for first in the SEC with Tennessee and LSU, it begs the question: Can Travis return in team to secure the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament?
Here’s what we know right now:
Travis is “Attacking his Rehab”
During Monday’s media availability, Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus said Travis was attacking his rehab “right now.” Calipari followed that information by stating Travis’ rehab process is underway, saying that “is a good sign.”
“They had him (Travis) in a brace for a minute,” Calipari said. “He’s just so committed, so professional and so driven. I’ll never rush a player back, but the good news is that he’s not gonna hurt himself.”
The Wildcats have yet to be challenged since losing Travis. They finished off Missouri by 8 points on the road. This past Saturday, they dominated Auburn 80-53.
Arkansas should be another figurative layup. The Razorbacks stand at just 14-13, and are fourth to last in the SEC. After that, a road trip to No. 7 Tennessee looms this Saturday.
Grade 1 knee sprains, like Travis’, usually recover within a few weeks. With him vigorously working his way back, expect him to lace up in the regular season finale versus Florida on March 9.
“He’s (Travis) doing what he needs to do. I know that,” said Justus. “Reid Travis is the ultimate professional in terms of how he approaches every single day, on the floor and off the floor.
Calipari will likely take his time in reintegrating Travis, as the 10-year Kentucky coach is seeking his second national championship since arriving in Lexington in 2009-10. The Wildcats are currently slated for the No. 1 seed in the Midwest REgional of the NCAA Tournament, according to Joe Lunardi of ESPN.
Without Travis, someone else will have to step up to contain All-SEC caliber big men in Daniel Gafford of Arkansas and Grant Williams of Tennesee. Freshman EJ Montgomery and sophomore Nick Richards are the early candidates.
Travis locked up Williams in the Wildcats’ 86-69 blowout over the then top-ranked Volunteers on Feb. 16.
That was in Lexington, however. The return trip to Knoxville threatens Kentucky’s bid to regain the regular season conference title after finishing fourth in 2017-18.
Meanwhile, the wait for Travis’ return continues.