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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Men's Basketball

Despite stream of injuries, senior works his way back


Senior guard L.J. Rose will redshirt this season in hope of getting completely healthy before his final season in a UH uniform. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

Senior point guard L.J. Rose is a poster child for bad luck, or at least head coach Kelvin Sampson thinks so.

Rose’s continuous setbacks with his foot have cast uncertainty over his time as a Cougar and eliminated his possibilities of being dominant on the court.

His right foot broke three times within seven months and he had to undergo surgery twice—once in July 2014 and more recently after breaking it in a game against the University of Cincinnati in January.

“We were leading that game by 10 (points) at the time, and he walks on over, bends over and puts his hands on his knees and says, ‘Coach, I heard a pop,’” Sampson said. “He just shook his head, and when he said that, I knew he’d broken it again or had another fracture.”

Rose’s season debut was Dec. 16 against North Carolina Central University, but after listening to his body, he realized that it wasn’t the right time for his return.

“His foot was still bothering him,” Sampson said.

Rose has broken his fifth metatarsal, the bone that goes down to his foot from his pinky toe, as well as the fourth, connecting to his ring toe. Stress fractures, or hot spots, also began to form on his left foot.

“Hot spots are where they’re not shown as fractures, but you can tell that you’re headed that way,” Sampson said.

Rather than stepping back on the hardwood too soon and finding himself back on the bench, Rose applied for a redshirt so he can heal and play again for the Cougars.

“I didn’t think I would ever have to redshirt,” Rose said. “But I talked to my parents, and then I went to talk to Coach (Kelvin Sampson) and Coach Kellen (Sampson), and we just decided that that was the best thing for me.”

With the season underway, Rose felt it was the best decision for himself and his teammates.

With a season off, Rose has a chance to return to health, but he’ll do so at the cost of watching from the sidelines — yet again.

“I’ve sat out a lot in my career, so I’m kind of used to it,” Rose said.

For Sampson, it’s unfortunate because Rose could’ve been an asset for the Cougars this year.

“There are two point guards, and there’s no question in my mind that L.J. would’ve made those two guys better, too,” Sampson said. “He’s a seasoned veteran, a senior. The hardest thing to teach in basketball is instincts — L.J. looks and he sees, he knows how to make people better.”

Although Rose is practicing with the team without problem, Sampson said there are just no guarantees because of his feet’s history.

“Even though he’s going to redshirt, you pull for him, but you just don’t know,” Sampson said. “It’s no one’s fault. Some guys are great players and you never realize how good they are because they never got to play because of injuries. L.J. would’ve been a heck of a college point guard because he’s a good player.”

All Rose wants is a senior year, and Sampson said he deserves that.

As for Rose, he continues to put extra work in with trainer John Houston and holds firm to the notion that everything that has happened to him thus far was meant to be.

“There are a lot of things that don’t allow me to become derailed or discouraged,” Rose said. “My faith, my love for the game, my support system. I have a great family that supported me all the way through this time and my decision and they made it easier for me.”

Rose doesn’t believe in limiting himself and said he plans to play and pursue his basketball dream for as long he’s able to.

“Fear of what can happen in the future is the least of my concern,” Rose said. “It’s happened to me before; the worst possible outcome is that it happens again.”

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