Bobby Frasor is a changed man.
Not by choice mind you. But there's no denying that the senior is not the same player who stepped in as a McDonald's All-America freshman point guard and led a no-expectations North Carolina team to a 12-4 ACC record and No. 3 NCAA Tournament seed.
After directing the big show back then he now emerges from the bench to enter the game. Where he was confident he's now more timid. Once a reliable threat from outside he now shoots an arctic 30.6 percent overall. Heck his current play even generated an editorial letter debate in The Daily Tar Heel.
The tough part of all that is the surrounding circumstances.
After an injury-plagued sophomore year that severely limited his minutes he came back as a junior only to tear his left ACL. With so much time spent in rehab and precious little spent on the court" Frasor notices the effects.
""As far as my body goes" I feel stronger faster than freshman year he said. But I think mentally being away from the game for a long period of time kind of took its toll on me" because now I'm thinking more about things that you instinctively do as a basketball player. And so it's kind of upsetting.""
Following that freshman year" things hardly could have been going better for Frasor. True he did have then-freshman Ty Lawson contending for the starting spot" but he entered his sophomore season ""probably the best I've ever felt confidence-wise as a basketball player.""
Physical limitations would cut down that mental utopia in a hurry.
After starting the first five games and averaging 17.4 minutes in the first seven" problems with his right foot limited him to just 7.7 minutes in his last 21 contests as UNC advanced to the Elite Eight.
The Tar Heels' run to the Final Four last season was even worse. After getting back into shape and averaging 16 minutes a game Frasor went for a fateful steal against Nevada on Dec. 27 2007.
A split second later" his season was over with a shredded left ACL.
""Boy" what do you say you know" ‘Bad luck'?"" said Frasor's father" Bob" a former high school basketball coach. ""Just … you gotta push on. Life can be like that.""
Former UNC player Wes Miller was on hand that night" and he had never seen his friend as down as he was after the game.
But following the initial devastation" Frasor was back to the rehab that would prepare him for his senior season.
""Other than that moment" when he was really down — I remember a week later after the surgery he was really positive Miller said. He's laughing he's joking he's got a good attitude" he's got that infectious personality. He never lost that through anything he's been through.""
Though Frasor has had his friends and father to talk with during the process"" times haven't always been easy — especially when he was resigned to the bench while UNC made its run to the Final Four last season.
""You still felt separated" I guess to some degree from the team and all their accomplishments and everything" he said.
And while he's worked hard to physically rehabilitate himself, there are still consequences. UNC's media guide has a section where players list which part of their game they worked on during the summer. Rather than something such as 3-point shooting, Frasor's reads slightly different.
He's back this year, though the effects are evident. His shooting has been noticeably off, but he thinks with practice and confidence it will return. Defense has been where Frasor stands out, as UNC coach Roy Williams has continually mentioned, and his all-around contributions still earn him 14.4 minutes a game.
As Frasor puts it, it's not an ideal career."" And while he mentions the what-ifs surrounding his injuries"" dwelling on them won't help UNC reach its lofty goals this year.
""I'm not complaining to God" or crying to anybody about it he said. Like I said I'm just living it up" just enjoying my time in college.""
But it's still not the same"" and Williams paused five full seconds when asked a question about Frasor during a recent press conference.
""Here's a guy who went through all kinds of (injury) struggles … and is one of the most intelligent basketball players I've ever coached and has gone through things" and to sit up here and say ‘Well he's not what he used to be' … that's pretty damning. And I'm not going to say those kind of things he said.
… So you can look at him. Everybody can say ‘Well he's not doing exactly what he did as a freshman"' and that's true.
""But that's sports — sometimes it takes longer to come back" sometimes guys don't come back and get to where they were. But I just know that his freshman year he was a complete player for us" and that's the only year that he's been injury-free.
""And right now he's doing as much as he possibly can" and I think it's … I think" well … does that answer it?""
FOLLOW THE GAME
UNC at N.C. State
Time: 3:30 p.m."" Saturday
Radio: WCHL 1360
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