Had a chance to chat with Jernard Jarreau who is recovering from a right knee injury that occurred in the season opener.
The 6-10, 220-pound forward will be a redshirt junior next season. He sat out the 2011-12 season and during his first year with the Huskies he averaged 3.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 12.7 minutes while starting 7 of 31 games in 2012-13. Despite the paltry production, Jarreau drew interest from NBA scouts because of his size and playmaking ability.
He appeared ready for a breakout year last season and won a starting job. During an exhibition game against Central Washington, Jarreau finished with 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks in an amazing performance.
However, his season ended 80 seconds into the Nov. 10 opener against Seattle University when he tore knee ligaments.
Jarreau expects to be medically cleared by trainers in September, which would end a 10th-month recovery.
He’ll likely return to the starting lineup next season where he’ll pair with guards Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews. Several players will vie for the other starting spots. One potential candidate is 6-11 center Robert Upshaw, a transfer from Fresno State who sat out last season.
Due to the absence of forward Desmond Simmons, who transferred to Saint Mary’s, the Huskies need Jarreau to get healthy, stay healthy and begin to fulfill his promise as a multi-talented big man that’s perfectly suited for coach Lorenzo Romar’s high-post offense. Simmons and departing senior forward Perris Blackwell led the UW big men in points and rebounds last season.
Here’s the interview with Jarreau.
(How is rehab going?) “Rehab is going fine. It’s five days a week. Every day. It’s gradually getting back into things. I feel better now. I feel more comfortable with what I’m doing now, the exercises. I’m working on my jumping, landing and stuff like that. Just gradually getting back into the things. I’ve been out for like a year and it just feels good to get mobile now and start moving more.”
(Five days week doing what?) “I lift five days a week. And on top of that I do my rehab so it’s just a lot of strengthening my hamstrings. Both of them. Getting them right. Working on my motion and balance. Stuff like that. Just all the things required for me to come back 100 percent.”
(Is it anything like you’ve done before?) “Nah. That was the main key coming into the rehab. Pat (Jenkins) – my trainer – was saying I’m going to be doing exercises that I’ve never really done before. Working on my quads more, hamstring more, calves more – it’s just an everyday thing. I’m getting sore and stuff like that because I’m working on muscles that I’ve never really worked on before.”
(You’re in the middle of your rehab, but I’d imagine trust is a big thing.) “Trust is a big part of it. It’s more like a mind thing. It’s all mental. I just have positive people around me. My coaches are always saying positive things. My trainer and even my doctors. I leave everything up to them. They tell me what to do and I feel good about it. It’s just a mindset.”
(And then I would think you have to trust your body is going to heal properly and do what it’s supposed to do.) “Yeah. I heard that when I first get back out there on the court it’s going to be a little different – just thinking too much. I just got to trust myself and just go out there and play my game. Trust my knee and hope that everything will be good.”
(I’m sure you’ve lifted a lot of weights and did tons of drills, but do you think the hardest part of the rehab is going to be when you’re back on the court and trying to rediscover your game?) “Yeah. I had that problem my junior year when I broke my wrist. I came back at the end of the season and I was kind of a little timid with some things and stuff like that. After awhile I got my rhythm back and got my legs under me. It’s different from a knee to a wrist. I need my legs. It’s really like a trust thing. It’s a big trust thing. I just have to have the confidence in myself and go out there and do me.”
(What has been the hardest part of the rehab?) “The patience. Patience is like the hardest part. I’ve been out a year. Just going from the surgery part to the after-surgery part there’s the pain. Walking on crutches. Just the whole process. But I’ve been keeping my head high. Staying positive and listening to positive people.”
(Doesn’t sound like you’re a patient person.) “Nah not really. I don’t really want to say that, but I’m kind of really not patient. But patience is the key to this so I’m learning. I’m learning. It’s kind of hard. I want to get out there and play. I just love the game of basketball.”
(How are you with pain? Can you deal with that?) “Yeah. The pain part is out the door now. That was like the first four months. But after that, after I got off the crutches and started walking on my own the pain kind of went down and everything felt good.”
(What’s your target date?) “I’d say about the time we have to report back. About Sept. 15. That’s my target date. That’s when hopefully I can get full contact. Go up and down with the guys and do everything that the guys are doing. So that’s my target date.”
(Will you be cleared to do any 5-on-5 before that?) “I’m not really sure right now. I’m just leaving everything up to my trainer. I want to. But if he says it’s not worth it, I’ll just wait.”
(It’s been said that because you’ve never really been a high-flyer, then you can recover nicely from this and it won’t negatively affect your game. Do you agree with that?) “Well yeah. I wasn’t really a person that liked to be inside. But after this I’m working on muscles that I never really worked on. I’m working on my legs and doing a lot of jumping so I think it can help.”
(Has any of this taught you something that you didn’t know about yourself?) “It kind of showed me what kind of person I was. If I really was dedicated to the game of basketball, then I would take the time out and do what I have to do to get back on track. That’s what I’m doing right now. I think I really love the game of basketball because I’m really trying to get out there and play.”
(Being on the sidelines last season, what did you see?) “Oh man. It was a headache sometimes. Not just by losing, just by me watching and not being able to really do anything. Watching them compete and I wasn’t with them. It was hard for me. I just wish I could have been out there with them and helped them a little bit more. That was the hardest part. Just sitting back and watching. … I just have more focus now. I’ll be more focused on the games. Every little thing counts.”
(Can you pinpoint one or two things that didn’t go right last season?) “I just think we didn’t have the type of inside presence that we talked about preseason wise and what we were expecting. It was just, I don’t know. I’m not going to call guys out or anything like that.”
(Nah. You don’t want to do that.) “Yeah. It was just nights that it just wasn’t on. We couldn’t really regroup. It was frustrating at times. Really frustrating.”
(We’ll never really know, but it seems as if you could have made a difference last season. You had the one exhibition game when you looked really good and that created high expectations.) “I really had high expectations coming into this year. I wanted to be that leader on the floor. Just bring that old Husky basketball back to the arena. Just by me going down I kind of feel like I was the downfall of the team and kind of messed everything up. I don’t want to say that, but it is what it is. They still went out there and they had to perform.”
(Going forward how do you think the Huskies will do next season?) “We’ll do good. We have everybody returning back except for C.J. (Wilcox) and Perris (Blackwell). Hopefully we’ll have Rob (Upshaw) back down there. He’s an inside presence. He’s a game-changer down there. We have a couple of new guys coming in so I’m pretty excited for them. Our guards right now are working hard. We’re looking good.”
(Who will be the team leaders?) “We’ll have four upperclassmen and then Nigel (Williams-Goss) will be returning. He’s going to be more of a leader. Andrew Andrews is a leader and myself. We’ll be more of the leaders.”
(I’ve been saying the key to the 2014-15 season is the chemistry between you and Upshaw. If you return in September you guys won’t have a lot of time to develop chemistry. Do you think you guys can play together?) “Yeah. I think most definitely me and Rob can play with each other. He’s a big guy down there who can catch the ball. I’m a good creator. Rob likes the lobs a lot. I can hit hm down low. He can pass it back out. He knows I can play the four.”
(It just seems with you being out last year you guys haven’t had much time on the court together.) “Last year we went out there and did the whole preseason and we played well together. I was figuring out his game. What is tendencies are and where he likes the ball and stuff like that. He knows where I like the ball too. I’m not going to probably get a lot of touches down low. I’ll probably be in the high-post area where I can distribute it to him, lob it to him or whatever. It’ll be fun.”