The first sign injured Utah freshman point guard Rylan Jones is trending in a positive direction came when he emerged from practice Tuesday afternoon in full practice gear.
The second sign came when he was allowed to address the media, generally a sign of at least reasonable health.
Jones, who suffered a rib injury against Central Arkansas on Dec. 7, missed the second half of that game, then didn’t dress Saturday against Weber State, returned to practice on Tuesday as Utah readies to face No. 6 Kentucky Wednesday night in Las Vegas (9 p.m., ESPN2).
Jones only did some running Tuesday and did not participate fully. He has not been officially ruled out for Wednesday night, but it is tough to envision Jones playing against the Wildcats. Utah will play No. 20 San Diego State on Saturday in Los Angeles at Staples Center.
“It’s been a lot of chilling, watching practice, doing a lot of treatment, trying to get my ribs better,” Jones told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It was tough not playing, but my teammates did fine. We got the win and they played well together. It just sucks sitting there watching my teammates play, but it’s been all right.”
With Jones out against Weber State, freshman guard Jaxon Brenchley started in his place, while sophomore Both Gach ran the point for virtually all of the career-high 37 minutes he played.
If Jones cannot go Saturday against the Aztecs, he will then have 12 more days to heal before the Utes open Pac-12-play on Jan. 2 against Oregon State at the Huntsman Center.
“We’ve been in a kind of a holding pattern with him,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said earlier Tuesday. “Kind of a precarious injury and spot, we’re not going to put him in harm’s way. Being a late game, we’ll probably get a little more information as the next couple days unwind.”