Sean Merriman, BTN.com web editor, March 13, 2015
CHICAGO — Wisconsin senior Traevon Jackson sat at his locker, fielding questions from a reporter following the Badgers' 71-60 victory over Michigan in a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal game on Friday.
He has his left shoe still laced up, while his right shoe is removed as he gradually rolls his foot back-and-fourth on a roller.
Jackson hasn't played since on Jan. 11, when he broke his right foot in a 67-62 loss to Rutgers. He was given an expected recovery time of six weeks.
It has been been just under nine weeks now since the injury, and Jackson has had to learn to cope with the injury and watch from the sideline as his team continues to roll and make a case for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
"I'd say I'm about 90 percent right now," Jackson said, following Friday's win over Michigan. "I definitely have a way to go on some things, but I feel good mentally.
"I just want to make sure everything in my body is 100 percent ready when I do come back."
Jackson's competitive nature is what drives him to return to the court and help the Badgers make consecutive final four appearances, which would be a first in program history.
He told his teammates that he was ready to come back for Senior Day against Michigan State on March 1, but the decision was made to rest him and to continue his rehab until he is 100 percent ready.
"It just shows how much he wants to get back and what a competitor he is," redshirt sophomore Zak Showalter said of Jackson. "We want to get him back out there, as well.
"It's his senior year and he's worked his butt off for all those years for this, so it's tough to watch a guy like that not be able to contribute. He's our leader."
Jackson says that the goal is to come back and start practicing in full on Monday as the Badgers prepare for the NCAA tournament.
"The only reason why I wouldn't is if it (his foot) is still bothering me," Jackson said. "We'll see. It's a day-to-day type thing, but this has definitely put things in perspective as to where I want to be at.
"I don't want to be hobbling around. I want to be out there competing."
Meanwhile, Jackson has served as a mentor to the likes of Showalter and sophomore Bronson Koenig, who has averaged 11.4 points per game since taking over at point guard.
"He's been very helpful — before the game, after the game, in timeouts, he just tells me to keep pushing the ball, go to the rim, keep shooting," Koenig said of Jackson. It helps to have a senior leader like Trae who has kind of been through it all."
During the span of 15 games that the Badgers have been without Jackson, they have posted an impressive 14-1 record and have outscored opponents by an average of 13 points per contest.
"If I come back, I wouldn't see any reason for us to shuffle things up with the way we've been playing," Jackson said. "I just want to try and help out the team as much as possible in whatever role that can be."
That sounds like a statement one would expect to hear from a leader. A leader that the Badgers would love to have back as they make a push toward history.