Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports

March 5, 2014

'A true Wildkat player'

Persons hopes to cap Red and Blue career with tourney run

Tayler Persons has scripted one of the best stories of the boys basketball season with his sooner-than-expected return from knee surgery and with strong play upon his return.

The Kokomo Wildkat standout and Indiana All-Star candidate has surprised many with his comeback — and has surprised himself a little, too. He is averaging 18.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists in a heavy workload of 27 minutes per game.

“It’s just unbelievable,” he said. “Honestly, I knew I could get back, but I thought I’d be able to come back and play 15, 20 minutes a game — not be able to come back and play the way I’ve been playing. I think I’m just blessed by God. I’m thankful for everyone that is believing in me and my great doctors and therapists. But it’s just unbelievable being able to come back and making the contributions that I’m making right now.”

Persons tore an ACL in a football game on Aug. 30 and had surgery on Sept. 17. Rehabilitation from that type of surgery often takes 6-12 months, but Persons returned to game action in 4 1/2 months. He made his season debut against Anderson on Jan. 31. He had 16 rebounds, seven rebounds and three assists in a 68-48 victory.

The Northern Kentucky recruit followed with several more strong performances including a 27-point game against Logansport and a 25-point game in a 51-50 victory over Fort Wayne Northrop.

“Everywhere I go, someone is telling me that I got back fast and that they can’t believe I came back this early,” Persons said. “I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent yet, but I’m pretty close. I just have to get certain things back like jumping. I think everything else is there.”

Kokomo coach Brian McCauley deeply appreciates Persons’ commitment to the Kats.

“It’s just an outstanding story,” McCauley said. “The work ethic and dedication he had coming back ... and then to come back and not only play, but play at the level that he’s playing at is really a testament to his toughness and what type of person he is. He could have easily decided to rehab and just prepare for his freshman year at Northern Kentucky, but that is not what he wanted. He is a true Wildkat player and he wanted success for his team and our community. To come back and help our team improve, I’m thankful for him and his teammates.”

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