The 6-foot-8 freshman sat hunched over on the North Carolina bench, his hands propping up his chin as he intently watched each possession.
Occasionally, he excitedly shifted in his seat, uttering instructions to his teammates.
And for the third consecutive game, that's all Sean May could do -- watch.
But not for long, he says.
May, a strong inside presence for the Tar Heels, had led the team in rebounds and ranked third in scoring until he fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot on Dec. 27 during the first half of North Carolina's game against Iona. Three days later he had surgery, and doctors placed a stainless steel screw in his foot.
In addition, the doctors injected bone marrow from his hip to enhance the healing process.
It worked. Or at least the freshman and team doctor Tim Taft think so.
In a press conference prior to North Carolina's 79-64 home win against Davidson, May said that he expects his stitches will be removed this Saturday and that within 24 hours of their removal, he'll step up his workout plan.
"After surgery, they told me I'd be in a lot of pain," May said. "I wasn't hardly in pain. ... I think I need to be at all the practices so I'm really not lacking when I get back out there."
Coach Matt Doherty did not specify when May will return, though May said he could return in as few as six weeks.
Freshman Byron Sanders, who replaced May in the lineup, continued to show signs of improvement against Davidson. In his 31 minutes, a season high, Sanders pulled down seven rebounds and notched seven points.
"He's stepping up because Sean is hurt, and even now he's stepping up his game even more," said point guard Raymond Felton. "So when Sean gets back, it's going to be great. We'll have Sean and Byron and we've got Damion (Grant), too."
This isn't May's first brush with serious injury, which is why he considers himself a quick healer. About five years ago, May was walking through a Bloomington, Ind. mall when he was pushed into a window. The glass tore three tendons and cut two nerves in his right hand.
And while May can't wait to shed his light brown suit in favor of his No. 42 jersey, his teammates say there's no rush.
"I don't want Sean to rush it," said Jawad Williams. "He just needs to take his time, but it'll be nice to have him out there again."
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