Two of the top boys basketball players in the 5A SIC received good news this week, which could have huge implications as teams begin the second half of their regular seasons.
Boise senior Sam Simpson (left knee) has been cleared to return after missing three games, and reigning Gatorade Idaho Player of the Year Isaiah Wright of Borah (broken right wrist) was told he is progressing faster than expected and could return next month.
The 6-foot-8 forward the 5A SICs leading scorer and rebounder dislocated his kneecap on a layup against Capital on Jan. 4.
When he went down and crumpled and went onto the ground, he immediately pulled his shirt up over his face, Boise coach Jeff Ulrickson said. I assumed the worst.
Simpson missed the rest of that game, and games against Borah and Meridian while waiting for the swelling to go down. Doctors determined Simpson did not tear any ligaments and have cleared him to return against Eagle on Friday.
Boise was unbeaten and tied for first with Capital when Simpson was injured, but lost two of three without him on the court.
We are really happy to get him back, Ulrickson said. Not to sound corny, but my biggest relief is that this isnt going to have any affect on him long term.
Simpson was a first-team all-conference pick last season and a second-team All-Idaho selection. He is drawing some interest from college teams, Ulrickson said.
The Lions have won the past two 5A state championships with the help of their 6-2 senior point guard and Utah commit, and started the season 3-1 before his injury.
Wright was originally expected to miss the entire season, but has recovered faster than expected since surgery Dec. 19. After a doctors appointment Wednesday, Wright was told he has improved at an unbelievable rate.
His next appointment is scheduled for Jan. 29. Wright said he could get the go-ahead to play at that time. If not, the Lions are hopeful he can be ready for the District Three tournament, which begins Feb. 18.
My wrist is feeling really good, but I am not going to rush it, Wright said.
In Wrights absence, the Lions have fallen to seventh in the standings, winning two of their past six games.
Without Isaiah, thats a different team, but theyre still so well-coached. They play hard and they fly around, Ulrickson said. Thats not just all fluff. Thats not a one-guy squad, but if and when they get Isaiah back, I tell you what, they are going to be right back in the mix. Hes that good. He makes that big of an impact.
NOTE: Capital junior guard Keegan Hansen has a slight tear in his MCL. He has been out since he sustained the injury during a practice over Christmas break. Hansen, who was the undefeated Eagles second-leading scorer at the time of the injury, meets with doctors Friday. Capital coach Paul Rush said Hansen could return next week.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422,Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX