Hiram Thompson appeared from under one of the Stan Sheriff Center tunnels and walked out near the court with some of his Hawaii basketball teammates.
The senior point guard was dressed for a normal practice; for a moment it seemed he would step onto the floor.
Then on went the sling.
Thompson was sidelined in the first UH practice since the overtime win over Nevada on Monday, when he suffered a hyperextended elbow and some ligament damage.
Though final MRI results on the extent of the damage — and whether it will be of the UH career-ending variety — are still pending, Thompson was essentially ruled out for the team’s game at UC Davis on Saturday, as he must immobilize his left arm for about a week.
The setback robs Thompson, a native of the Sacramento, Calif., area, a chance to play in front of family and friends in nearby Davis.
"We’re 10 minutes away from his house up there. It’s unfortunate. But it’s part of playing," UH coach Gib Arnold said. "It’s not even a true prognosis (yet), but the torn ligaments is better than (a broken bone). There’s a chance (he can return to play). We just don’t know how soon that will be. Hopefully before the end of the season."
Thompson, a tri-captain who is averaging 8.7 points and 2.9 assists per game, hyperextended his arm when he fell on the court on a fast break near the UH bench in the second half against Nevada.
"It’s pretty sore … the doctor still needs to look at the MRI. See exactly what it is. He found some things wrong with it," Thompson said. "I have to keep it stabilized for a while, not do anything with it."
The prospect that it could be a career-ending injury wasn’t weighing outwardly on Thompson’s mind. He’s dealt with numerous ailments in his UH career. He knows what it’s like to wait and see.
"For sure (I’m optimistic). Hopefully I’ll be able to get back soon. We’ll see when," Thompson said.
UH (14-10, 5-7 Western Athletic Conference) departs for San Francisco this afternoon. From there, it will bus to Davis to prepare for the ESPNU BracketBusters nonconference game against the Aggies (9-16, 3-9 Big West Conference).
Backup point guards Miah Ostrowski and Bobby Miles move up a spot in the rotation with Thompson out, though Ostrowski had already assumed the crunch-time role in recent games.
"Miah and Bobby are going to really have to help us out at the point and shoulder those responsibilities," Arnold said. "They’ve both played a lot of ball, so they’ll be fine. Those guys have put in a lot of minutes."