Blake Waud was playing in an AAU game June 3, 2012, when he suffered the worst injury of his career.His Nike Team United AAU team was playing in a tournament in Powder Springs, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta. He went up for a rebound, his leg locked with an opposing player’s body, and he came down awkwardly with his left foot landing on another player’s foot.Waud’s left ankle and heel turned in at a 90-degree angle, aimed directly at his right foot. As Waud waited for an ambulance, he was in pain physically and mentally.“As soon as I landed, I was in intense pain,” said Waud, who had also broken his nose the day before that in the same AAU tournament. “I remember telling my mom, (Phyllis) ‘I don’t think I will ever play basketball, again.’ When I looked at my foot, I knew it wasn’t just a common injury; it was graphic.”Less than two years later, Waud, a senior, is having his best season to date on the Weddington High team, averaging a double-double with 10.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game for a team that is 19-2 (through Feb. 6). Getting to this level after the injury wasn’t easy. The injury wasn’t as bad as it looked. Doctors reset his foot, putting his heel back in place, and after the swelling went down they put him in a cast. Officially, he had a dislocated left heel.Shortly after returning to Charlotte, Waud was able to work with Dr. Robert Anderson, who works with many professional athletes, and he started to rehab his foot.By September 2012, he was back playing basketball. On Oct. 28, his father, Jim, remembers him dunking in their driveway.“Once I knew I was going to be OK, I was determined to get back on the court as fast as I could,” said Waud, who was eager to make the Warrior varsity squad after starting on the junior varsity team in his freshman and sophomore seasons. “I was going to whatever it took.”While Waud was a bit rusty, having missed summer and preseason workouts, he was ready to go when his junior season started, just a bit more than six months after his injury. Waud proved he could be a key player on the Weddington varsity squad. He played in all 28 games, averaging 6.6 points and 4.4 rebounds on a team that went 17-11 and lost in the second round of the playoffs. But he realized he couldn’t run as fast, jump as high or play at the consistent level he was accustomed. Waud also broke his nose against Independence in the Cox Mill Christmas tournament, forcing him to wear a mask the rest of his junior season. He broke it in the second quarter, but he didn’t stop playing and wouldn’t admit it until the game was over. “I was never 100 percent my whole junior season, which was very frustrating,” Waud said. “I would think I could make a play, and then I just couldn’t get there fast enough or jump high enough.”Slowly, surely he regained his game, his strength and most importantly, the confidence he could do it.After a strong offseason with both Weddington and his AAU team, Waud felt as good as ever coming into his senior season.Weddington has won 17 of its past 18 games and is 6-1 (through Feb. 6) in the Southern Carolinas Conference.Waud, 18, has had several big games, including 21 points and 20 rebounds against Cox Mill, 16 points and 20 rebounds in a win over Anson at home, and 20 points and 18 rebounds in the win at Anson. Waud is shooting 57 percent from the field and makes a lot of hustle plays that don’t show up in box score.Waud stands just 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, but he plays the power forward or center spot, often giving up 3-6 inches and 20-40 pounds to his opponent.While Waud is excited to be playing well, the only stat that matters to him is winning.“Blake fits into this team so well because he is like all the other guys on this team,” said Weddington basketball coach Gary Ellington. “He does not care about getting his name in the paper, he does not care who scores the points, he just wants to win.”Weddington is off to its best start in school history, with Waud and the rest of senior class, including Brandon Watts, Demonta Oates, Mason Osepchuk and Jake Granger playing key roles. Juniors Jordan Barber, Jordan Sharpe, Chris Trevisan and A.J. Fulp have also played well.“When we were in the eighth grade, with a lot of the same guys, we were not that good at all,” Waud said. “But we stuck together and got better, and to be having the best year in Weddington history means a lot to us.”Weddington has a chance not only to win the school’s second conference title , but the players also believe they can make a deep run in the playoffs.For Waud, who says he won’t play college basketball, he knows the time for Weddington to play its best basketball is now.“This season has been awesome so far; we’re in a position we never thought we’d be in” Waud said. “While it’s crazy to think how far we’ve come, we want more. Right now, we’ve to take it game by game, and be 1-0 every game and keep doing that until we finish on top.”
Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014
Weddington senior Blake Waud is playing well after injury
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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