Texas coach Shaka Smart said he was on the phone with another coach Monday morning when center Cam Ridley tried to call him. Three times.
“I knew Cam was fired up about something,” Smart said.
The injured senior, who has missed two months with a fractured foot, was cleared to begin running and jumping this week. But Smart held back slightly when asked whether Ridley would play in this week’s Big 12 tournament.
Essentially, Ridley’s status is day-to-day at this point. UT trainers will put him through various tests each day in practice and wait to see how he responds.
“In his mind, he feels like he will be playing soon,” Smart said. “Basketball-wise, I’d put him a game right now.”
Ridley had sky-high playing expectations when he met with reporters last week. But playing 25 minutes in a game after missing two months sounds unrealistic. Ridley would most likely be a 10-15 minute contributor initially and work his way up from there.
There’s also a possibility Ridley doesn’t play at all this week to save him for the NCAA Tournament.
“If and when he does play,” Smart said, “it gives us a really big lift just him being out there and his presence around our guys.”
Taylor’s health status: Guard Isaiah Taylor refused to wear his protective boot after Friday’s game at Oklahoma State. He walked out of Gallagher-Iba Arena with no noticeable limp after playing 26 minutes.
“I ain’t gonna lie. It hurts a lot,” said Taylor, who is bothered by plantar fasciitis in his right heel.
“We’re just going to monitor him as he goes,” Smart said. “His injury’s a unique one in that it changes from day to day. Some days he’s feeling better than others.”
More awards: The Associated Press announced Monday that Taylor received first-team All-Big 12 honors as voted on by reporters. Taylor earned a similar spot on the coaches’ All-Big 12 team on Sunday.
Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield became the first player in league history to win AP player of the year honors in back-to-back seasons. Kansas’ Perry Ellis, Iowa State’s Georges Niang and Monte Morris also were first-team picks.
Smart also praised center Prince Ibeh, who was picked by the coaches as defensive player of the year.
“You’re happy to see him get rewarded, because he’s been huge for our team,” Smart said. “Now, with us heading into the postseason, we need him to continue stepping up and playing his best basketball.”
Looking ahead to Baylor: Texas and Baylor split their regular-season series. The two teams meet again in Thursday’s Big 12 quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
The Bears smacked the Horns, 78-64, in the last matchup in Austin. Texas opened the game with three consecutive turnovers and things went downhill the rest of the day.
“If you’re a competitor at all — as a player or coach, manager, (graduate assistant) or whatever — that’s a big-time motivator for you,” Smart said.
The Bears (21-10) stumbled down the regular season’s home stretch, losing three of their last four. That includes losses to No. 2 Kansas, No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 10 West Virginia.