David Foster doesn't know when he will be able to walk without the cumbersome plastic boot on his right foot, but he does know that he will have the opportunity to play basketball again.
The 7-foot-3 Utah center hasn't played since breaking a bone in his right foot six minutes into an exhibition loss to Adams State.
Speaking to the media Tuesday for the first time since his injury, Foster said he initially decided to end his Utah career after this season, but after discussing it with his family over Thanksgiving and Christmas, decided to redshirt this season and return next year.
Krystkowiak first revealed plans for Foster to return a week ago on his TV show.
Despite Utah's historic struggles this season, Foster said he wanted to be a part of what first-year coach Larry Krystkowiak is building.
"The coaching staff and the recruits that are going to be here," he said, listing the reasons for his return. "Just the opportunity for greatness. I want to have a solid senior year. That also played into it. The coaches, I have trust in them that they'll help me get to that spot."
By the time his career ends in 2013, Foster, who served an LDS church mission in North Carolina, will have been affiliated with the Utes since signing with Ray Giacoletti in 2005.
Foster, the Mountain West Conference's leading shot blocker as a junior, was expected to be a defensive force for the rebuilding Utes. Instead, his senior season was over before it began.
Krystkowiak said Foster would be better served by an additional season.
"I do think him coming back with maybe a fresh slate and not a lot of the ups and downs that we've dealt with as a whole would be a lot more palatable for him as a senior than this experience," he said. "I think potentially could have a pretty good ending to it. I hope so."
A staple of the sidelines in past months, twirling basketballs and sliding around the margins of the court on a scooter designed to keep weight off his foot, Foster had grown visibly frustrated by being unable to play basketball.
"It's awful," he said. "I can't stand it. You're just so used to doing something for so long and it's just taken away. It's tough, but it makes you stronger."
One point of concern for the Utes and Foster is the center's long-term health. Big men with foot injuries are notoriously apt to repeat their woes, something Foster acknowledged by said he wouldn't let distract him.
"You don't want to shoot for the worst case scenario," he said. "But you never know what can happen. Luckily my foot is more stable with the screws in it right now. I've just got to keep working on my strength and ability to stay away from injuries.
Foster's return, however, leaves the Utes with just two available scholarships, one less than they anticipated before the season began. The Utes have already signed five players for next season, and are actively recruiting others.
The result will be players from this year's roster who have eligibility remaining, but don't return next season.
While Krystkowiak is challenged by Foster's return in that sense, the coach said it would not have kept him from bring the California native back for a shot at a redemptive senior season.
"We want to do right by the kids in the program," he said. "We're not going to be kicking anybody to the curb. You try to find somebody that's a fit. We just got to get through the next nine games to exactly determine where we are and sit down with all the parties involved."
— Bill Oram
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