It’s been almost 11 months since Jordan Cross tore the ACL in his left knee. One of the area’s top high school guards, he made it just three games into his senior season at Sullivan East.
Fortunately, his basketball career didn’t end there.
Cross is now a freshman at Milligan College, trying to work his way back to top form and into the lineup. After two weeks of preseason camp, Cross is cautiously optimistic about the season ahead.
“The knee is doing all right, still a little sore,” he said Thursday before practice. “It took me about five months to get back to playing, and I’ve been rehabbing to get back to normal ever since.”
Milligan coach Bill Robinson likes what he’s seen of Cross so far.
The youngster is one of seven freshmen on the roster, though only about three are expected to have an immediate impact this season. Cross would be one of those.
“He just shoots the ball so well,” said Robinson. “He’s not 100 percent yet, and if he was, I believe he might be starting. He just doesn’t have the explosiveness back yet.”
Cross agrees, estimating he’s about “80 percent” healthy.
“I’m feeling like I’m not as quick,” he said. “This summer when I was playing on it, the game was more mental than I thought it would be. I finally got past that, and now I’m trying to get everything right physically.”
• Robinson is impressed with the overall condition of his third Milligan team.
“It’s the best-conditioned team I’ve had in 20 years as a head coach,” he said. “I’ve never had a team this prepared. It’s a relatively mature group, and they didn’t take the summer off.”
That includes freshmen like Jason Steele, the forward from Mountain City.
“He was busy working construction all summer,” said Robinson. “Most of the kids are sitting around and can play ball and do their own thing. Jason was out there making a living and working hard. It’s taken him about a month to get his basketball legs back under him.” The coach expects Steele to contribute this season. He also sees potential playing time for another freshman, combination guard Mickey Woods of Port Arthur, Texas.
As for the veterans, “Marshall Hardy and Cordero Seymour look great, and so does Kyle Grisby,” said Robinson. “Tyler DeVault has put on 40 pounds since he graduated from high school (at Sullivan Central). He’s a kid we thought we’d give a JV spot to and that he might help us by his junior year. He’s probably going to be the first post player off the bench.”
The Buffs are practicing five days a week. They’ll have their first scrimmage Oct. 24.
• The volleyball team has started to find the winning formula.
After a 1-8 start, the Lady Buffs have won four of their last five matches. More importantly, they stand at 3-1 in the Appalachian Athletic Conference heading into a road match tonight at Bryan.
• Chris Ochieng was named the AAC offensive player of the week in men’s soccer after collecting three goals and two assists in a pair of victories.
The junior forward from Nairobi, Kenya leads the Buffs in scoring, with 13 points.
Milligan (4-2, 1-0) hosts Union on Saturday night.
• The women’s soccer team lost 3-1 at Carson-Newman on Wednesday night. Sophomore Grace Shawley scored the Lady Buffs’ lone goal on a free kick from 20 yards out.
Milligan is 3-3-1, 1-0 heading into a home match Saturday against Union.
Rachel Martin, the senior forward from Blountville, was named the conference offensive player of the week on Monday. She scored two goals and now has five for the season; no other Milligan player has more than three.