COLUMBIA -- The Gamecocks are still going to be without A.J. Lawson for at least one more game, but there is good news for the team's go-to freshman.
Lawson, who injured his ankle Tuesday against Alabama, got his cast removed and will officially start rehabbing Monday with the hopes he could potentially play sometime over the last two regular season games and in the SEC Tournament.
“His sprain was pretty severe. They casted him and they took that off this morning," head coach Frank Martin said. "His foot actually looked like a foot today. It looked like a mallet after the game against Alabama. Like I said last week he definitely won’t play tomorrow.”
Lawson left last week's loss to the Tide with about eight minutes to go with a badly sprained ankle and did not travel with the team to Missouri on Saturday, a game the Gamecocks (14-15, 9-7 SEC) ultimately lost.
He'll miss Tuesday's game at Texas A&M (13-15, 6-10 SEC) on Tuesday (7 p.m. SEC Network) but Martin hasn't officially ruled out Lawson potentially coming back for the regular season finale Saturday at home against Georgia or the SEC Tournament the following week in Nashville.
Lawson will start rehabbing this week and is showing signs of progress a week removed from the initial injury.
“Given the severity of the sprain, his range of motion today was actually pretty good. He started rehabbing today," Martin said. "He’s off that little scooter and in a boot. He’s weight-bearing.”
South Carolina travels to College Station for a game against the Aggies Tuesday with, as Martin put it last week, "6-1/2 players."
With Lawson out, Martin played Hassani Gravett primarily play at Lawson's two-guard spot and will have to likely do the same thing again with Lawson still out indefinitely.
In terms of his return, there are a few criteria Lawson has to meet before being cleared to not only return to practice but be put in a game and that starts with swelling in the ankle and extends to how well he can move it on the court.
Once he's officially cleared by the medical staff, it's about how much pain Lawson can tolerate on if he'll be able to play.
“The two most important things: the swelling has to be all gone, which remarkably it’s almost all gone, then range of motion and strength has to be good," Martin said. "He’s got to work on that. once your range of motion and strength are all good, then it’s pain bearing. Some guys can measure pain better than others.”