Arizona leading scorer Jerryd Bayless is going through rehab instead of getting ready for the Pac-10 season opener, as he is doubtful this week for the No. 21 Wildcats after spraining his right knee.
The freshman, who is leading Arizona in scoring with 18.5 points per game, has no timetable for his return after suffering a knee injury while making a cut during practice on Dec. 28, prior to the Wildcats game against second-ranked Memphis.
“It is frustrating. I want to be out there to help us out. I can’t be out there,” Bayless said on Tuesday. “I am going to get treatment twice a day and try to get back as fast as I can. Right now it is day to day.”
Interim coach Kevin O’Neill said it is very doubtful he will play in Arizona’s conference openers against Oregon State and Oregon this week.
Bayless said he is hopeful that he can return by a Jan. 9 game against Arizona State.
“I am leaving it up to him,” O’Neill said of Bayless’ return. “Different guys come back in different speeds. He needs to come back when he is comfortable. Some guys heal better than others. I hope Jerryd heals quickly and he gets back out there quickly.”
Bayless, a Parade All-American out of St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix, has scored in double figures in 10 of his first 11 games of the year.
“He has been huge,” O’Neill said. “Jerryd has played really good basketball, for a true freshman to play the way he has through our nonconference schedule, which is ranked highly nationally, I have been impressed.”
Arizona is also without starting forward Bret Brielmaier, who has had a separated shoulder since a win over San Diego State on Dec. 22. The Wildcats had not missed two regular starters in the same game for eight years prior to the 76-63 loss at Memphis.
Brielmaier, who is averaging 3.1 points and 3.5 rebounds, could play against Oregon State, O’Neill said. The Wildcats will be relying more on Chase Budinger and Nic Wise with Bayless out.
Budinger is the team’s second-leading scorer with 16 points per game.
“I have to be more aggressive, especially on offense. When I get the ball I have to attack the basket and try to do a lot more,” Budinger said.