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Jase Febres’ junior season ended on February 8th, 2020 when the Texas guard suffered an injury versus Texas Tech. He would require surgery to repair a microfracture in his left knee, beginning a long and arduous recovery process. His 2020-21 debut game against Kansas State saw him on the floor for 22 minutes. One month later, Febres didn’t total 22 minutes across three games versus TCU, West Virginia, and Kansas.
Febres had to build up confidence in his physical ability and break through the mental wall associated with serious sports injuries. After Tuesday’s game at Iowa State in which he scored nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range, Texas is seeing more of the confident senior guard just in time for the month of March.
“This is definitely a first step for me,” Febres said Tuesday following Texas’ 81-67 win. “I’ve been getting my confidence back in practice, but the game is a totally different atmosphere. Going out there and regaining confidence, coach has been putting me in games and letting me get my feet wet, but today I was really out there. I feel like I can go out there and guard, go out there and play how I can play.”
Febres said his journey back has built a lot of character. He detailed having to re-learn how to walk, then run, then move around on defense. It was a difficult process, one that he says has him playing at about 95 percent of his old self, but it was worth it for Febres.
“Finally, coming back and being able to go out there, make shots, and run and feel athletic again, that’s what the journey is all about,” he said.
He explained how throughout the course of his recovery that coincided with a difficult calendar year, his focus on mindfulness helped him stay persistent throughout his rehabilitation.
“If it wasn’t for that, I probably would have gone crazy,” Febres said. “This has been the hardest thing, hands down, I’ve ever gone through. Being able to stay present, more than anything, has been the biggest thing.”
Texas head coach Shaka Smart said the injury and rehabilitation process was frustrating for all involved, but none more so than Febres. Despite a quiet personality, Smart knew the surprising length of time he was out took a toll on his three-point shooter.
“Jase is very, very polite, doesn’t rock the boat, doesn’t complain, very mature, but like anyone else something like that bothered him and frustrated him,” Smart said Tuesday. “It frustrated me as well. It’s good to see him continue to work his way back.”
For much of the season, Febres was limited in practices and observed games from the sideline. He’d let Texas guards Matt Coleman, Andrew Jones, and Courtney Ramey run the show and be the more in-your-face leaders on the team, and would then help out in his own unique, quieter way.
But during that time, he had to watch a team he described as “the best Texas team I’ve been a part of.”
“Looking from the beginning of the year, I’ve known we’ve been special,” Febres said. “That’s what’s eating me up the whole year is not being able to be out there with the guys. Now that I’m out here, we’re getting back connected. We’re getting locked in for tournament time. We’re going to be ready.”
What can be expected going forward from the experienced senior? Smart believes if Febres can repeat his Iowa State performance throughout the month of March, he’ll be a valuable, experienced member of a NCAA Tournament team.
“If he can come in the game and contribute like he did tonight, that’ll be huge for us,” Smart said.
His recovery isn’t fully complete, but he still plans on being the best version of himself that Texas has seen across his four seasons.
“I’m not 100 percent as far as where I want to be, but I’m definitely making large strides to getting back to how I was,” Febres said. “Or even better. Not even how I was. Being better.”