When Michigan sophomore forward Jon Horford went down with a stress fracture in his right foot back in December, it was a cruel blow to a program that was already rail-thin at the forward positions. Horford, younger brother of NBA veteran and former Florida Gators national champion (x2) Al Horford, averaged just 10.8 minutes and 3.6 rebounds over the Wolverines' first nine games before the injury.
At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, Horford's frame and ability to block shots represented two very important assets for this Michigan program heading into the season. Seeing both of those taken away by the injury bug left UM's front line depleted, and an obvious area of concern for the team going forward. Even when the extent of Horford's injury became public back then, many were optimistic that he'd be able to return at some point before the year was out. To gauge where this possibility stood, head coach John Beilein spoke about Horford's future at Monday's Big Ten teleconference:
"We’re going through that right now with a medical redshirt (evaluation). Ultimately, it’s coming down to my decision. I want what’s best for Jon Horford, and playing 4-5 games right now to help us win is not what’s best for him. He should be entitled to another full season."
This is a tough, but logical call that Beilein is making here. On one hand, Jon has missed more than two-thirds of the regular season, so it's hard to imagine that he won't be granted a redshirt in this case. On the other, having him on board for both the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament could be an immense boost for this team if he is indeed healthy, and possibly even enough of a push to get this program to new heights.
It's painfully obvious that the Wolverines are starving for another big body on the interior, so it really has to be frustrating for everyone inside the program to acknowledge that Horford theoretically could come back, but that it's not in the best interest of the program to make that call.
Assuming all goes to plan and Horford is eventually granted a medical hardship waiver, the lanky forward will return next fall with three years of eligibility remaining.