Louisville coach Rick Pitino announced on his weekly radio show Wednesday night that freshman forward Wayne Blackshear has been medically cleared to play.
Blackshear's availability is big news for a Louisville team that has won five in a row [six of their last seven], but could use more depth down the stretch after season-ending injuries to top reserves Mike Marra and Rakeem Buckles.
A 6'5 star from Chicago, Blackshear hasn't played this season after injuring his shoulder in practice Oct. 28. The former high school All-American had surgery Nov. 1 to repair the torn labrum in his right shoulder and has missed all 24 of UofL's games this season.
Blackshear was cleared to begin non-contact drills in early January and began practicing with the team Feb. 1. He could see his first action Saturday at West Virginia, though Feb. 18's game at Depaul is more likely, since a short stint against Pikeville in a preseason exhibition on Oct. 26.
Whether Blackshear can have a major impact for the Cardinals remains to be seen, but he could provide needed depth behind forward Kyle Kuric, who has been forced to play major minutes for UofL this season. Kuric, Louisville's leading scorer, averages a team-high 36.8 minutes per game and played all 50 minutes in the Cardinals double-overtime loss to Notre Dame last month at home.
Louisville's top-ranked recruit, Blackshear dislocated his left shoulder in a collision during practice to the McDonald's All-American game last spring and had surgery to repair the injury. A big-time scorer, Blackshear averaged 32 points, 14 rebounds and six assists last season, and was named the Chicago Sun Times HS Player of the Year.