STILLWATER — Oklahoma State's Brian Williams recalls the events surrounding his so-called season-ending injury with great detail.
“Another day at the office,” Williams said of that October basketball practice. “Marcus Smart gets a steal — nothing new — I was up top, then I leaped out; Marcus dove out of bounds and threw me a beautiful pass. It was just me and the goal.
“I went up with two hands to dunk, I think I took off from too far, and my momentum swung me off the rim and my natural reaction was to put my wrist down.”
Just like that, Williams' day at the office went awry, with the impact leaving him with three broken bones and damaged ligaments and tendons, signaling the end of his season.
Or so it seemed.
Seems now, however, that Williams falls into the category of fast healer. And that's good for him and the Cowboys.
Way ahead of schedule in his recovery, Williams can actually envision a return to the team, perhaps as soon as the next few weeks.
“It's a matter of how fast I can get it strong,” he said. “I'm just waiting my time. We've got a lot of young guys out there doing what we expected them to do. They're doing a real good job.”
Still, Williams wants in on the fun that has produced a 9-1 record, a No. 24 national ranking. He'll remain as the team's biggest cheerleader for now, with OSU back in action Saturday against Tennessee Tech (FSN, noon). He won't be back in time for the New Year's Eve clash with No. 14 Gonzaga or the opening of Big 12 Conference play.
But he's confident his time is coming, with reinforcement from his doctor, who moved Williams from a cast to a brace on Thursday, the next step in his return.
“Everything's even better than we expected, even this morning,” Cowboys coach Travis Ford said Thursday afternoon. “He's in a brace, one he can take on and off.
“I asked Brian, ‘What does it look like?' He said he basically doesn't have a forearm. Which is to be expected. But I was hoping.”
While the Cowboys have gotten out to a strong start, it's easy for Ford to wonder just how good his squad might be with Williams, a sophomore and returning starter who was just starting to find his fit at the end of last season, when he averaged 9.6 points and was a full-fledged member of the Lob Stilly movement as a dynamic athlete.
“The best defender we've got,” Ford said. “He averaged 13 points a game over four games in Spain.
When you lose him and JP (Olukemi), that's 24 points we've lost. And our best defender.
“So it would be nice to get him back. It definitely would be.”
And for Williams, it would be nice to get back. During OSU's four-game preseason exhibition tour of Spain, Williams sensed something special developing in the Cowboys' transition offense. And he wants to experience that again soon, just in case Smart and Le'Bryan Nash make a jump to the NBA.
“Everybody was just starting to feel each other out,” he said. “Smart was starting to find me and Markel (Brown) on the break. I'm finding Markel, I'm finding Smart.
“Then when they broke me the news that I wouldn't be playing this season, I was crushed. I was just hoping some guys would stick around to play with me next season.”
Williams finds hope in the recoveries of teammate Philip Soucek, who is back better than ever after tearing his Achilles late last season, and of Cowgirls forward Toni Young, who suffered an injury similar to Williams.
“She's explained to me every step of the process,” Williams said, “from the pain she felt, to her arm being skinny when she got out of the cast to her wearing long sleeves in the summer because she was embarrassed by her arm. She talks to me a lot about it.
“Seeing her back healthy is inspirational.”