Freshman Kone could soon join Beavers
CORVALLIS — Ben Kone is ready to get back on the basketball court.
After thousands of hours the past 10-plus months spent on various forms of rehab to strengthen his injured left knee, the Oregon State freshman forward is excited to see it start paying off.
The 6-foot-9 Kone has missed the Beavers’ first nine games of the season. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in late January as a senior at Archbishop Mitty High in San Jose, California.
Kone headed south Wednesday for a Thursday appointment with the Stanford Medical Center doctor that performed the initial surgery. He expected to be cleared for full contact and could be available to play in Sunday’s 3 p.m. home game against Savannah State.
“I’m really looking forward to playing,” said Kone, who has been reduced to cheering on his teammates in games and no more than half-court, non-contact practice drills. “Everybody’s been working so hard. We just haven’t been really clicking. I really just want to help everybody stick together, be a glue guy, get rebounds. Whatever my role is.
Kone said he hadn’t talked with coach Wayne Tinkle about what he’ll be asked to do. But he’s willing to accept whatever that might be.
Tinkle has seen the work and effort Kone has put in.
“He’s really amped up the energy here the last couple weeks knowing that he’s getting closer. Hopefully we’ll have him out there before long,” the coach said.
“We’ve got to be patient like we have to be with all the rest of the guys. Just hope that he can bring us some stability in the paint, offensively, defensively, defend and rebound, that sort of thing.”
The time Kone has put in isn’t lost on his teammates either.
Sophomore guard Stevie Thompson, who missed six games with a foot injury before returning last week, believes Kone can be a good rebounder, score inside and affect shots.
“He’s really been working hard trying to get back onto the court,” Thompson said. “I know when he gets back he can be really, really helpful for us. He plays with a lot of energy and a lot of passion, and that’s really something that we’re really missing right now.”
OSU has outrebounded five of nine opponents, and Drew Eubanks believes Kone’s return will be a plus in that category. Fellow sophomore post Gligorije Rakocevic says his team need’s Kone’s help around the basket.
“I hope our defense is going to be better, and on the offensive end and our rebounding is going to be better,” Rakocevic said.