As Justin Anderson and his University of Virginia basketball teammates prepared to face Louisville on Feb. 7, life was great.
The Cavaliers were ranked No. 3 in the nation, thanks in no small part to the play of the effervescent Anderson, an über-athletic energy machine who fired up his teammates and fans alike. Already known for his defense and his play around the rim, Anderson had improved his outside shooting touch in the first half of the season and was being mentioned among the best players in the Atlantic Coast Conference – and as a likely first-round NBA draft choice.
So when Anderson was forced to leave the game with a fractured finger, fans despaired. Their concern, though, likely was only a shadow of the worry that Anderson himself went through.
The team quickly announced that Anderson would likely miss four to six weeks of action. Already, the UVA sports medicine team was at work.
Anderson underwent surgery early the next morning to repair the damage, then started an intense period of physical rehabilitation. He was poised to return four weeks after the injury, but underwent an emergency appendectomy on March 5. Yet one week later, he took the floor in an ACC Tournament game. In June, he was the 21st overall selection in the NBA Draft, picked by the Dallas Mavericks.
Most of the UVA sports medicine team’s work is not quite as dramatic as Anderson’s case, but it highlighted the care that all Cavalier athletes receive, from future pros to non-scholarship practice players who rarely see the field. The partnership between UVA athletics, UVA Orthopedics and the athletic trainers who serve each team keeps hundreds of athletes healthy and playing at a high level.
“It’s amazing the people you are surrounded with in Charlottesville,” Anderson said. “Words can’t explain how thankful I am personally to be part of it.”