Austin Jordan couldn’t wait to get back to work. It showed all over his face, his smile plenty contagious on Saturday afternoon following a 66-42 win inside the Parkview SportOne Fieldhouse.
That win marked just game and day two officially back from an ACL tear suffered on December 26 against Carroll during the SAC Holiday Tournament.
“It felt great,” Jordan grinned talking about his return to the court. “It felt like when I first started playing basketball. Everything feels good, I wasn’t thinking about the knee or anything. Just real out of shape.”
Jordan returned to the court on Friday, July 10 joining his Indy Heat Red team in pursuit of a title at the Ballin Under 1 Roof tournament at the fieldhouse. The team went 3-1 over the weekend with two wins in pool play and a win in the opening round of the 17U Platinum Bracket on Saturday night. They were eliminated in a 63-61 loss on Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals.
Things were going good for South Side in December, battling tough against the eventual SAC Tournament champion Chargers in the opening round of the tournament. But midway through the first quarter, a freak slip saw Jordan’s leg contort under him. He left the game and did not return in the eventual 60-50 loss.
There was early expectation that Jordan would be back soon. Maybe as quickly as early January’s Marion Classic. Was it a LCL or MCL issue? Once Jordan showed up in Marion in street clothes, the rumors continued to swirl. Once it was officially ruled an ACL injury, which Jordan’s father Lawrence alerted him to on New Years, Jordan knew a long road to recovery was in store for him. Older brother Justin, now the girls basketball coach at Whitko, similarly had torn his ACL during his college career. The immediate future and road to recovery for Austin was an all too familiar one.
“It was devastating, I didn’t know how to take it,” Jordan said. “[Rehab] was pretty long. At first, I hated it but I tried to stay positive the whole time. I just worked hard every day. My brother, my dad, my family just helped me through the whole process and made it better each and every day.”
And then COVID-19 happened and it changed the course of things for Jordan, just as it did for the majority of the country. An April return to the court was scrapped and July eventually became the target date.
“It was bittersweet, but I did get more time rehab time in. Trying to come back in April probably wouldn’t have been best for me but everything turned out pretty good,” Jordan said.
Three extra months were a world of difference, kind of a blessing to avoid rushing back too early to compete with Indy Heat Red 2021 and South Side since there was not a traditional summer schedule. Jordan only missed a couple of tournaments with Indy Heat Red 2021 because of the delayed start time to mid-June.
Jordan is happy to back on the court now. He came off the bench for Indy Heat Red 2021 over the weekend and was used a tempo controller, back in the point guard position he has become accustomed to. He was thrust into a true point guard role as a high school freshman midseason at South Side and has shined. His return for the 2020-21 season with the Archers will allow other guys to go back to natural positions too. But with all that unknown ahead, Jordan is just enjoying the moment – one last one – on the summer circuit.
“I’m just going to continue to be in the gym each and every day,” Jordan said. “I’m going to just play defense, hit the open shot, be a general on the floor and try to win tournaments; this is my last go around.”