Kyrie Irving: Return to the Duke Blue Devils a 'Definite Possibility'

James PattersonContributor IMarch 14, 2011

DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 01:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils watches on during their game against the Michigan State Spartans at Cameron Indoor Stadium on December 1, 2010 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

For the first time in months, Duke's Kyrie Irving spoke to reporters about his toe, his rehab and his potential return to the Blue Devils lineup.

And there's a glimmer of hope for those hoping to see the freshman sensation in action again.

Irving damaged his right big toe in a game against Butler on December 4; he hasn't appeared in a game for Duke since.

"It's definitely a possibility that I'll be back for the NCAA tournament," Irving said in the locker room after Duke defeated North Carolina for the ACC title.

"It all depends on the medical staff and if they clear me or not to start practicing with the guys. I'm in the gym consistently, but I haven't started practicing with the guys."

Irving started publicly participating in conditioning exercises and light basketball drills in Greensboro, N.C., during the tournament, raising speculation that he would return for the conference tournament.

Irving was in street clothes for all three games, but raised speculation that he could make his return this weekend as Duke starts out as a No. 1 seed in Charlotte.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was a bit more reserved in his comments, but still left the door open for a return for the freshman who averaged 17.4 points and 5.1 assists in eight games for the Blue Devils.

“We’re far away from that decision. But he’s doing well," Krzyzewski said.

"He’s worked out here every day and we’re not trying to hide anything. We tried to show that first of all we do have a guy named Kyrie and secondly that he’s progressing well.”

Without Irving, Duke is one of the top four seeds in the NCAA tournament, which starts this week in Dayton, Ohio.

With Irving, Duke could quickly become the overall favorite. The freshman would allow Nolan Smith—who has played point for most of the season—to shift over to his natural shooting guard position and give the Blue Devils yet another scoring option.

Irving was shooting an impressive 45 percent from behind the three-point line before his injury.

According to Irving, Nike has constructed a special basketball shoe for him that will help prevent the same injury from happening again.