WASHINGTON -- Former Lexington High School standout Tim Heskett, who caused so many heartbreaks over the years against area schools such as South Aiken and North Augusta, will be in street clothes when Oklahoma plays today in the NCAA tournament.
Heskett has sat out the entire season after suffering a back injury during pre-season workouts last November. He was projected to start at off-guard this year for Oklahoma, which squares off against Indiana in the East Regionals at 6:45 p.m. today.
"It has been rough," Heskett said Wednesday. "It was hard emotionally at first just watching my teammates, knowing there was nothing I could do to help them. I have played basketball my whole life, and it was tough not being able to out there on the court."
The injury devastated the Sooners even worse. The team had high expectations for Heskett after a spectacular finish to his freshman season last year. He started the last 9 games, and was named Big 12 Rookie of the Week twice during that span.
"Tim Heskett is for us, as Steve Wojciechowski is for Duke," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "Tim is an emotional leader, with a fiery game that got us going a lot last year. He was our best 3-point shooter. We're a lot better team with him than without him."
The good news for Heskett is that he was able to qualify for a medical red-shirt, thus will have three years of eligibility remaining. The better news is Heskett's back is improving, and has allowed him to practice with the team for the last two weeks.
"I don't know if my back has recovered 100-percent, but what I have been able to do is practice in minimal pain," Heskett said. "If it does get bad over the next month, then we'll probably go in and probably have surgery."
FORMER TEAMMATES: Connecticut guard Ricky Moore was glued to the TV last weekend when his former Westside backcourt mate, Duke's William Avery, went coast-to-coast for the winning shot against Clemson at the buzzer in the ACC tournament.
"I'm happy for him," Moore said on Wednesday. "Will is having a great year, and more importantly the team is having a great year. I think he made a wise choice going to Duke. He's getting a lot of playing time, and next year he should be starting."
On the recent controversy involving his childhood buddy Vonteego Cummings , Moore declined to take sides. Cummings was snubbed from being named to the All-Big East first team despite spectacular numbers.
"You have good enough to players in the Big East that you can't tell who are the top 10 or 15 guys," Moore said. "There's not going to be five guys come out every night hot. I think Vonteego has done a great job with his team, and really played his behind off."