CJ McCollum, the Trail Blazers first round pick in the 2013 draft (10th overall), has been cleared practice fully with the team. The development was tweeted by the team earlier today. He had been cleared to participate in 3-on-3 drills eight days ago on December 12th.
. @CJMcCollum is cleared to practice! How’s that for an early Christmas present, Rip City?
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 20, 2013
McCollum’s seemingly imminent return will bolster the team’s back-court presence, which has so far relied on a combination of Damian Lillard, Mo Williams, and Wesley Matthews. At 6’3″, McCollum can likely contribute in both positions, easing the burden on the other three. With three Blazers starters in the top-10 for minutes played this season (including Lillard, the starting point guard), the flexibility offered by McCollum will be a great help to Head Coach Terry Stotts.
McCollum attended Lehigh University for four years, where he posted career averages of 21.3 points and 6.3 rebounds. He also shot a blistering 51.6% on three-pointers during his senior season, before it was cut short by a broken foot. He is perhaps best known for leading Lehigh to an upset over number two seeded Duke in the 2012 NCAA March Madness tournament.
Unfortunately, the foot injury persisted, and McCollum has been forced to sit out since training camp. When the re-injury occurred, McCollum opted for a non-surgical, ultrasound procedure, which thus far has looked to be successful. In an interview posted on the Blazers website, McCollum said he felt find after practice.
I’ve been pain-free for a long time. But yeah, the foot feels really good. Obviously I’ve got to get more practices in, kind of get used to playing five-on-five, but I look forward to it.
With the grind of the regular season now fully underway, McCollum’s return will be a welcome development for the team. In particular, his 3-point shooting should be able to allow him to immediately contribute.