UNI Panthers

AJ Green adjusting to crutches, watching UNI men's basketball from the sideline

Injured star is focused on rehab - and reading

Northern Iowa's AJ Green (4) drives past Drake's Noah Thomas during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game i
Northern Iowa’s AJ Green (4) drives past Drake’s Noah Thomas during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinal round of the Missouri Valley Conference men’s tournament Friday, March 6, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa men’s basketball standout AJ Green is adjusting to life on crutches.

Besides a couple days on crutches in elementary school, Green has never been limited physically like he has been since getting hip surgery on Dec. 17.

“It definitely tests your patience,” Green said. “That’s something that I struggled with the past couple weeks, but I think I’m getting better.”

The UNI standout’s operation was performed by Dr. Marc Phillippon of the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo. Phillippon’s bio includes recognition by his peers in US News and World Report as among the top 1 percent in the nation in his specialty, and Green told The Gazette he’s operated on numerous professional athletes.

“It was cool in their hospital where I was. All on the walls and then all these rooms it was just jerseys and signed pictures of Olympians, Tom Brady,” Green said. “Just a whole bunch of (athletes).”

The reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year said he could have tried to play through the pain this season, but would have needed surgery afterward, which would have kept him out of the beginning of next season. There also was the potential that playing through it could cause more damage to the hip that would limit the number of years he could play the game altogether.

Phillippon’s operation lasted nearly seven hours and repaired numerous injuries caused by a bone spur that had developed in the socket of Green’s left hip. The spur tore his labrum and also caused a fracture that required a shave down and a screw.

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Since the operation Green said he’s been at practice almost every day and he’s embraced being a coach.

“I’ve always wanted to be a coach once I’m done playing,” Green said. “I just tried to look at this time as an opportunity to kind of get a little head start on that and see what it’s all about.

“I think definitely, come next season, I’ll have a different perspective when I’m playing.”

He’s also been doing rehab and reading books with his newfound spare time.

“I’ve been trying to stay busy,” Green said. “Whether it’s doing rehab, getting in the pool, or I can lift upper body.

“The (book) I’m reading right now is called ‘The Slight Edge.’ I just started it. It’s just about this guy’s life story of what he calls the slight edge and how he learned what it takes to get that slight edge on everybody else.”

Green will return to Colorado for a checkup on Jan. 19 and could lose his crutches and increase the weight allowed on his hip past 20 pounds if all goes well.

“They said the whole recovery process is about six months,” Green said. “I’m not really sure about when I can start working out again and getting back to that. I think it’s still a few months.”

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