Fordham's Jon Severe will return to the program Friday after a one-month leave of absence, Rams head coach Tom Pecora told Bleacher Report Thursday night.
"Having Jon Severe back with us at 100 percent will obviously raise our talent level and make us a better basketball team," Pecora said. "The key to the process is Jon feeling comfortable enough to come back and compete on a daily basis."
It's been a turbulent start to the 2014-15 season for Severe, a sophomore, who last year averaged 17.3 points per game.
On Nov. 8, six days before Fordham opened its season, Severe was suspended for one week due to a violation of team rules. He missed the Rams' first game, and when he returned, he scored five points and played a combined 39 minutes in three games.
Then, on Nov. 29, the school announced that Severe was taking a leave of absence and would be out indefinitely. He's missed the Rams' last seven games as a result.
Pecora said Severe will practice Friday after the two meet earlier in the morning, and he'll be available Sunday when Fordham opens Atlantic 10 play with a home game against VCU. He said the fact that Fordham is about to begin what will be a very difficult conference schedule had no bearing on Severe's return.
"The timing of it wasn't dictated by our schedule," Pecora said. "It was dictated by how he was feeling.
"It was a group decision. I'm not rushing him back because we're getting into A-10 play. Unless he's right, he's not going to help us anyways."
Severe's return could have a major impact on the Rams' season.
He has the potential to be an elite scorer. With three players—Eric Paschall (15.8 points per game), Mandell Thomas (13.3 PPG) and Christian Sengfelder (12.3 PPG)—averaging in double figures, adding a fourth scorer, a guy as capable as Severe, will add depth to a rotation that's increased its production of late.
Furthermore, his return comes at what would appear to be the perfect time for Fordham, though, it's merely a coincidence that it's happening now. The nonconference schedule is over, and as tough as those 11 games were for the 5-6 Rams, these next 18 will be even tougher, starting Sunday when VCU comes to town.
Following that game, Fordham will travel to Rhode Island, come back home for Dayton and hit the road again for Saint Joseph's. You get the point: Nothing will be easy over the next two months. Fordham will need all the help it can get, and Severe is a player capable of providing just that.
Finally, with Paschall leading the Rams in scoring, Sengfelder getting better every game, Thomas emerging as a go-to guy and strong play down low from Ryan Rhoomes—among some other notable developments so far this season—it's easy to see why Pecora remains confident that the Rams can turn it around.
"If you look at the youth of this team," Pecora said after Fordham's win over Howard on Sunday night, "it would be foolish to think that we're not going to grow and become a better team as we move forward."
Pecora said he expects to win games against A-10 teams. Severe could play a big part in how many the Rams get.
Of course, we've been here before with Severe. He'll have to stay focused, earn his playing time and give the effort it will take to become part of the team again.
But it's important to remember that Severe was supposed to be a huge part of Fordham's plan for this year and into the future. It seems only right that he's back and will have the opportunity to contribute. When he's on—and that means mentally just as much as physically—he has the potential to be one of the top players in the conference.
Now we'll see if he can turn that promise into a reality.
Quotations in this article were obtained firsthand.