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Thursday February 21, 2013 Yeguete on pace for early return

Updated: 10:23am, February 22

Will & DukeGAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Junior forward Will Yeguete is ahead of schedule in his quest to return to the Florida basketball team following knee surgery two weeks ago.

Maybe way ahead of schedule.

UF coach Billy Donovan said as much Thursday, even hinting that the versatile Yeguete -- who underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove cartilage chips in his right knee Feb. 8 and was expected to be sidelined for the balance of the regular season -- might be ready to return for the Gators as early their March 2 home game against Alabama.

“There’s a possibility of that, not a guarantee of that,” Donovan said.

That would make Yeguete available for the final three regular-season games, plus the Southeastern Conference and NCAA tournaments, assuming no setbacks.

“I’m really excited, but I’m taking my time and making sure I’m back,” Yeguete said after a grueling conditioning session Thursday. “So far everything is good. They tell me I’m ahead, but I’m just going to go day by day, doing more and more everyday. If my knee responds -- and does not swell up -- we’re going to add more stuff.”
Yeguete was cleared for straight-ahead running and did wind sprints on the court at the start of practice while his teammates ran through drills. That went well, according to trainer David “Duke” Werner (pictured above with Yeguete at Arkansas game).

Kill Will After rehab treatment, Yeguete reported to the weight room where Greene put him through a diabolical 25-minute Tabata workout of high-intensity interval training: 12 circuits, eight reps of 20 seconds each, with 10 seconds of rest in between.

Or as strength coach Preston Greene calls it, “Kill Will, Volumes I, II and III.”

After the workout, Yeguete (pictured right) remained flat on his back for about 10 minutes.

 “This is torture,” Yeguete grimaced. “I’d rather be practicing.”

Music to Greene’s ears.

“That’s the idea,” he said.

The real idea is to get Yeguete back into the eight-man rotation for whatever March run the Gators have in them. That would be extra special for Yeguete, who suffered a broken foot last February.

That injury, the medical staff believed at the time, was supposed to be season-ending. Amazingly, Yeguete rehabbed to the point he would have been available to play in the Final Four, but UF fell one win shy in falling to Louisville in the NCAA West Region final.

Turns out, Yeguete is a quick healer.

“We’ll see,” he said. “It’s just good to know I have a chance to be back.”

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