Gabby Green, a 6-foot-1 sophomore combo guard from Oakland, Calif., is poised to make her much-anticipated return to basketball on Friday. Her promising young career, which earned her the ESPNU HoopGurlz No. 5 ranking the 2014 class, was interrupted on July 12, 2011 in her club season debut with the Cal Storm Team Taurasi. Early in the game, she fell and broke her right ankle.
Green has been rehabilitating during her more than six months off of basketball. But you don't reach top-five status without a pretty intense work ethic, and Piedmont (Calif.) gets to be the first barometer in seeing just how much work she's been able to sneak in while in a cast as she and her St. Mary's (Albany, Calif.) team play at the Highlanders' gym Friday night.
"The worst part was just watching and not being able to be out there playing with my teammates," Green said.
While Green expects to play in short stints while she regains her conditioning, she has been working on her game, even with limited mobility.
"Even when I was in my cast I would form shoot and work on my dribbling," Green said.
Green believes the time off has made her a smarter player. She says she's more aware of things on the court after her time as a spectator.
"It's different from playing," Green said. "When you're watching from the sidelines you see different things, the gaps in the defense and spacing on the floor."
Green isn't wasting too much time in recruiting, either. She is set to make unofficial visits to UCLA and USC next weekend as the two schools host Washington State and Washington, respectively.
But getting back to this point wasn't exactly smooth sailing. Green had a choice to make, one that pitted her high school season and her spring and summer club season -- the decision on when to have the two screws holding her bones in place removed. With the screws in, her mobility would be limited and thus she'd never be 100 percent.
"I could have left them in and been playing in December, but I didn't want to miss any games in the summer," Green said.
With the screws removed and ample physical therapy to restore the range of motion in her ankle and to get strength back after major muscle atrophy in her right leg, Green is feeling somewhere between 75-80 percent healthy. She has the next few weeks with her teammates to get back to full strength and help the team with its goal of making a deep run in the state tournament.
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Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. He is a member of the McDonald's All-American team selection committee. Hansen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.