Five weeks ago, Penn men’s basketball junior Jelani Williams underwent yet another ACL surgery. This is the third surgery Williams has had on his ACL since 2016.
There is a remote medical possibility that Williams can recover in time to play the last few games of the season as the fastest ACL surgery recovery times are about eight months — putting a return in early March. However, based on Williams' medical history, that optimal time is almost certainly out of reach.
“I don’t think there’s any way he plays this year,” coach Steve Donahue told the Inquirer. “His doctor believes it’ll be one year before he’s completely ready to play college basketball again.”
The Inquirer also reported that Jelani has received a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA.
Williams was a recruit for Penn’s class of 2021 from Sidwell Friends, where he was a four-year letter winner and three-year captain. During his sophomore and junior years of high school, he received All-Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference honors.
But during his senior year of high school, Williams tore his ACL. This injury meant that he wasn’t able to play for part of his senior season, and that he wouldn’t be able to play during his freshman year at Penn. Unfortunately, after months of rehab, Williams tore his ACL again right before his sophomore season, forcing him to spend yet another year on the bench.
Despite his injuries, Williams has remained involved with the team. From the bench, he provides helpful advice to his teammates, and has continued to foster relationships with the squad. He continues to have hope that he will be able to play as a Quaker next season.
Williams posted a video on Twitter of a workout, saying he was "more motivated than ever" to tackle rehab and return to the court.
That return will have to wait another year — until his senior year.