East Lansing — Just weeks before the start of the season, Michigan State freshman Javon Bess was playing so well coach Tom Izzo was about to start experimenting with him in the starting group.
But that plan was derailed when a sore foot revealed a break that had to be repaired surgically. It meant Bess was out until at least December, a loss punctuated when sophomore Alvin Ellis went down with a sprained ankle in the opener.
Ellis returned a couple weeks ago, and now it appears Bess will be back Wednesday against Eastern Michigan.
"I feel great," Bess said Monday after going through his first full practice. "Now I need to watch more film and start getting back into the groove of things."
Bess, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound wing from Columbus, Ohio, had the fifth metatarsal repaired in late October. While rehabbing, he spent extra time conditioning, but knows it can't replace the pace of playing the game.
"Playing is way different than a bike," Bess said.
His first practice back at full speed was a bit of a mixed bag.
"He did OK," Izzo said. "He reminded me of Johnny (Manziel). The game seemed so fast for him that a couple of times he's trying to do things before (thinking)."
How much he'll play against the Eagles remains to be seen, but there is little doubt the Spartans will be looking forward to getting him on the court and helping solve Eastern Michigan's zone defense.
"He can do some things in the middle of that (zone)," Izzo said. "He can drive it and he is a very good offensive rebounder. I think he could help in that respect. How much (will he play)? Probably not a lot, but we are gonna take another look at him tomorrow and see if we can get him a few more reps."
Forbes discards brace
One player who will be 100 percent is junior guard Bryn Forbes, who has been wearing a brace on his left hand since breaking the third metacarpal before the season.
The size of his brace has shrunk since the start of the season, and as it has, his shooting percentage has improved. In the last three games, Forbes is 10-for-13 from 3-point range. He scored 18 against Notre Dame and 12 against both Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Oakland.
But now, the brace will be gone.
"I think it's gonna help a lot," Izzo said. "I think he's just gonna be more comfortable, able to catch things better, dribble better, and, maybe most importantly, pass better. He throws soft passes, still threw some today. ... He has done a heck of a job cause we've minimized what that injury really was."