UTSA forward Aleu Aleu takes it to the hoop and finishes in style to cap the team's workout Thursday afternoon. https://t.co/hyCDEtrt3Q pic.twitter.com/3nzY4znYuP
— Jerry Briggs (@JerryBriggs) October 6, 2022
The last half hour of a two-and-a half-hour practice Thursday afternoon belonged, in many ways, to UTSA senior forward Aleu Aleu.
Plagued with injuries and assorted adversity in his first year with the Roadrunners last season, Aleu showed off his increased stamina in the eighth workout of the preseason. He did it with an assortment of plays during a five-on-five, full-court segment.
First, the spotted up in the corner and knocked down a three.
Next, Aleu muscled for position, grabbed an offensive rebound and scooped a shot off the glass and into the net. Finally, he salvaged the beginnings of a broken play by taking a pass on the move, criss-crossing the lane and then double-clutching for another bucket.
“He might have gotten fouled on that one, too,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said after reviewing the video replay.
Henson acknowledged that Aleu, a 6-foot-8 Kenya native who moved to the United States 10 years ago, has strung together some solid workouts a little more than a quarter way through the team’s fall camp.
It’s a good sign for Aleu, who is coming off a knee injury suffered in January, didn’t practice with contact this summer and only started to return to form when in the team gathered in August for the fall semester.
“I mentioned his name the other day,” Henson said. “When he came back (to full speed) he was locked in defensively. You could tell he was focusing in on his effort. He’s a guy that’s got a really good feel for the game.
“He could be a good player without being an incredible physical player. But it looks to me like there’s a conscious effort to give great ball pressure, and to attack the rim … ”
This time last year, he wasn’t on the court with the team, suffering from an issue with his quad. Once the season started, Aleu was behind in his conditioning. He experienced a Covid setback. Then, a knee injury after the first of the year that knocked him out for the season.
He played only 10 of 32 games. Now, he is finally in good enough physical shape that his natural talent is starting to blossom.
“I mentioned that a week ago,” Henson said. “I thought he was starting to string together some good days. Commented about a week ago that he’s starting to feel normal again. I’ve liked his approach. If everybody walked in with the approach he’s had lately, we’d be feeling pretty good. He’s battling. He’s fighting.”
Injured and rehabilitating 7-foot center Carlton Linguard, Jr. has started to get involved more and more with team drills but has yet to participate in full-speed contact. Linguard is coming back slowly from a left knee injury. Once he’s healthy and ready to practice full speed, he’ll need NCAA clearance on an acadmics matter to be eligible to play.