Louisville’s Kevin Ware returned to big-time college basketball’s main stage on Nov. 6 for the first time since suffering a broken leg in a nationally-televised “March Madness” game against Duke.
Ware, a junior guard, suffered a gruesome compound break of his right leg in March after landing awkwardly trying to block a shot by Duke guard Tyler Thornton.
Ware, just cleared to resume play for the NCAA defending champions, entered the exhibition game against the University of Pikeville at the Louisville’s Yum Center Nov. 6 to a standing ovation.
The cheers reached a high pitch when, the first time he touched the ball, Ware fired a three-pointer that went right through the net. He finished with six points and four rebounds in 10 minutes of play.
Louisville won the game 90-61.
Ware told ESPN.com, “It was great. I’ve never felt like that before. I’ve been waiting for that moment. Once I hit the first shot, it took away all of the jitters.”
Ware was cleared Nov. 3 to practice with full contact for the first time since the injury, but he wasn’t expecting to play against Pikeville.
Rick Pitino told ESPN.com earlier that Ware is to be in uniform against the College of Charleston for the season opener Nov. 9, but the Cardinals’ coach said he was uncertain whether Ware would get into the Nov. 6 game.
Pitino told reporters after the Pikeville game, “I wanted to get him some minutes just to get him over the jitters in case I need to use him against Charleston,”
After the March injury, the game, during the Elite Eight round of the 2013 NCAA basketball tournament, was delayed almost 10 minutes as trainers wrapped Ware’s lower right leg, put him on a backboard and lifted him onto a stretcher to be taken off the court.
A few of Ware’s teammates fell to the floor in tears at the sight of his leg, while others on the bench turned away from where he had fallen only feet from the sideline. Coaches and fans in the crowd were also heartbroken by the injury.
Louisville went on to win the Men’s National Championship in the March Madness Tournament.
Ware said he expects his entire family to be in attendance in Louisville on Saturday for the season opener.