Almost seven weeks ago, UTEP sophomore guard Keonte Kennedy was playing the best basketball of his career.

Through six games in December, Kennedy was averaging 17.5 points per game and helped UTEP secure wins over the likes of New Mexico (77-69), McNeese State (82-72) and NC Central (70-61). However, in the Miners' final game of the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational against Bradley, Kennedy injured his ankle. He has missed the first 11 games of Conference USA since his injury on Dec. 22.

A month and a half later, Kennedy is preparing for his return to the court.

Kennedy, who had been seen in a walking scooter on the sidelines, tweeted a picture with his boot off. Head coach Joe Golding said they are moving into "phase two" of his rehab in order to rejoin practice.

"I just got back into town from recruiting. I talked to Keonte and our trainer Andrew, so I have limited information. The boot's off," said Golding. "I think we're starting phase two of the rehab so he'll be able to move a little bit. We're going to take it slow, we're not just going to throw him in there. Still going to be some time but we're moving in the right direction."

Since the team is taking a "slow" approach to Kennedy rejoining the team, it is safe to say he will be doubtful to return this Sunday against Marshall.

But the timing couldn't be better for the squad. UTEP has won six of their last seven C-USA games, which includes a recent loss against the top team in C-USA at North Texas (66-58). The Miners proved they can hang with the best teams in the league as they head into the final seven games.

The Austin native averaged 13.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game through 12 contests before suffering the injury. Kennedy was also shooting the best splits of his career—42.6%/30.8%/63.2%.

"I'll be thrilled when he comes back," said guard Souley Boum, who was all smiles when asked about Kennedy. "I haven't heard anything but I saw that he got his cast off. I'm happy he's going to be back soon."

 

For now, Kennedy will be rehabbing to rejoin the squad in the near future. The best-case scenario seems to be UTEP's three-game road swing next week when the squad faces LA Tech, Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee. If they play it safe, maybe Kennedy rejoins the group late this month when the Miners host UAB on Saturday, Feb. 27.

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