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Then-freshman forward Jalen Wilson shoots the ball. Kansas defeated Pittsburg State 102-42 on Thursday, Oct. 31.

Then-freshman forward Jalen Wilson entered his first regular season game inside Allen Fieldhouse with 8:47 remaining in the first half of Kansas’ early-season game against UNC-Greensboro on Nov. 8, 2019.

Wilson ran to the corner, heard a ‘pop,’ and promptly checked himself out of the game. After a mere 27 seconds, Wilson was done for the night.

After the game, it was revealed Wilson had a broken left ankle.

With the added delay of COVID-19, Wilson’s injury will end up costing him over a year between played basketball games. Still, that hasn’t stopped him or his recovery process.

“You guys will be amazed at how he’s changed his body and how much more explosive and everything that he is this year,” Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self said during a recent media availability.

Wilson will also be allowed all four years of NCAA eligibility, as Kansas gave him on a medical redshirt following ankle surgery. With that in mind, Wilson said he lost about 14 pounds of fat during the recovery process, and the injury made him re-contextualize his game. 

“I went home and reevaluated my season and on what I needed to improve on," Wilson said, "and I figured that my weight and my body was going to be a main thing I needed to work on and to get to where I want to be.”

Wilson's newfound body image — and new haircut — is a step in the right direction, making him faster and more athletic than before. 

“I don’t ever want to go back to how my body used to look,” Wilson said.

Self said he has noticed Wilson’s improvements and has given Wilson high praise throughout Kansas' preseason Boot Camp and other preseason practices. Self added that Wilson's year away from basketball has only made him better, potentially increasing his role on this year's team. 

“I think Jalen’s attitude and his tri-level [scoring ability] and his commitment, I think, put him ahead of the newcomers,” Self said. “I’m really excited about him.”

For Wilson, he's just ready to get back on the court and make an immediate impact this upcoming season.  

“I’ve been waiting a long time [to play basketball again]," Wilson said. "And it made me realize how much I love and miss the game. I’m really excited about this year.”