Devin Wyatt: UIW is ready for tougher competition. Video: theJBreplay.com
By Jerry Briggs
When the pain in forward Devin Wyatt’s knee flared up last summer, he tried to rest it.
But with his senior year at the University of the Incarnate Word looming, he didn’t sit for too long before he’d get on the floor again to continue fine-tuning his game.
His work ethic notwithstanding, Wyatt soon discovered a painful truth.
He was no match for a damaged meniscus cartilage.
“Every now and then, (I’d) go out there and do something and then it would bother me,” he said. “Then it really got bad when the school year started. Then, we found I tore it.”
At that point, doctors prescribed a medical procedure.
Given the timeline of the injury and rehabilitation, it’s remarkable that Wyatt returned to full speed workouts in mid-October.
It’s also commendable that he has played in all three games for UIW (3-0) leading into Wednesday night’s home matchup against Loyola Marymount (2-1).
“He’s a very good athlete,” UIW coach Ken Burmeister said. “(He) blocks shots. His (best) attribute is that he’s a nice young man that, you know, has an upside.
“Unfortunately, it’s getting late in his career. The injury set him back. But, who knows? We’re going to need him. I think that’s the biggest strength (of our team) is that we’ve got a bench, that we haven’t had in years.”
Wyatt is doing his best to be part of it.
The 6-foot-8, shot-blocking specialist has played only six, nine and 11 minutes, respectively, as UIW opened the season against three Division III opponents.
But with Division I foes such as Loyola Marymount, Houston, Gonzaga, UTEP and Florida on the schedule in the next month, UIW will need Wyatt’s size and athleticism to compete.
Burmeister said Wyatt is not yet in top shape.
“But he is trying hard,” said the coach, who never asks for anything more.
Wyatt, who played at Loyola Marymount in 2014-15 as a freshman, admitted that it’s been a struggle to regain the form that made him UIW’s top shot blocker last season.
“I feel a little rusty, but it’s understandable considering I haven’t played in so long,” he said. “But it’s slowly coming back. The more I play, the better it (feels).”
Playing at home, Loyola Marymount erased an eight-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation and defeated UIW 91-90 in overtime.
“They had an outstanding point guard who put about 30 on us,” Burmeister recalled. “With the 3-point shot and an opportunity to go to the line, an eight-point lead is sometimes not enough.
“We made a stupid play right at the end. We fouled about 80 feet from the basket and just didn’t play smart.”
UIW point guard Jalin Hart has returned to practice and is expected to play against Loyola Marymount. Hart banged his knee in practice last week, sat out a day of practice Thursday and didn’t play Friday at home against McMurry.
UIW: Forward Charles Brown III, three games, 16.7 ppg,7.0 rpg, 59.5 % FG; forward Shawn Johnson, three games, 10.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, six blocks, 12 steals; forward Christian Peevy, 13.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 70.6 % FG, four blocks, three steals.
Loyola Marymount: Point guard James Batemon, three games, 16.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 11 assists, 7 steals; guard Eli Scott, 15.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 50 % FG; guard-forward Steven Haney, 13.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg; guard Cameron Allen 12.3 ppg; 7-foot-3 center Mattias Markusson, 7.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg