STILLWATER — When Kansas State's Rodney McGruder went off in the second half, fueling a 73-67 win over Oklahoma State to open Big 12 Conference play, injured Cowboys guard Brian Williams sat helplessly on the bench, knowing that was his man.
“All respect to Rodney, but I don't think he would have scored 26 on me,” said Williams, OSU's defensive stopper who has yet to play, after breaking his left wrist in the preseason.
Games like that only fueled Williams' desire to return to the floor, a return that creeps closer to reality.
Once deemed out for the season, Williams has rejoined practices with the Cowboys and is targeting next week for his game debut, with only a final doctor's clearance standing in the way.
“I'm hoping for next Tuesday,” Williams said.
A preseason starter for the Cowboys, the 6-foot-5 swingman averaged 12.3 points during the team's four-game exhibition tour of Spain. As a redshirt freshman a year ago, he started the final 20 games, averaging 11.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in conference play. Beyond the stat line, Williams is considered OSU's best defender, able to defend guards and forwards alike.
“I'm really excited,” Williams said. “I see us keep losing these games, the ones we lost by like six to eight points. I feel like I can come up with six to eight points, get a few rebounds, a few stops.”
The plan for Williams is to continue practicing, go through another round of X-rays or possibly an MRI, then hope for final clearance from doctors.
How fast and how much he plays will rely on continued progress.
“They say it's healing great, I've just got to get back comfortable with it,” said Williams, who has been fitted with a brace. “I practiced for the first time (Wednesday). It got hit a couple times. I had to walk it off; then I got back in. But it's better than I thought.”
Cowboys coach Travis Ford said he won't rush Williams or his own expectations of a return.
“Who knows when he's going to be playing?” Ford said Thursday. “It's just a process we're going through. If he says he's ready to go, we might give him a shot. Right now, it's day-to-day.”
And right now, Ford said, Williams needs work.
“He's out there. He's running around,” Ford said. “But as you might expect, very hesitant. He's got a little ways to go to get ready, I think, to contribute as much as I hope he can contribute.
“But it's nothing unexpected. It's nothing out of the ordinary. It's fine, just all the normal things you'd think a man would have to go through who's been out for three months.”