January 23, 2008

Vaughn glad to be back, contributing after scare

The end of 2007 brought some tough news for freshman forward Julian Vaughn. An undisclosed medical issue forced him to the sidelines no games, no practice, not even any running. Not since an injury during his junior year of high school, which sidelined him for two to three weeks, had Vaughn had to sit and watch the game he loves.

"This one was different because I didn't know when I could come back," Vaughn said. "They told me I couldn't play any more. It felt weird not being able to play for that long. I had the desire to go work out but they wouldn't let me."

The symptoms didn't provide many answers either, they simply left the talented 6-foot-9 forward wondering when, or if, he would return to the court.

"I was tired a lot and just didn't feel right," Vaughn said. "I was real scared at one point."

In early January, after missing two games and 15 days of action, Vaughn traveled to the Cleveland Clinic where he underwent tests to help clarify his medical situation. The best news it provided was that he was cleared to return to action and he did so by playing at Clemson, albeit for only three minutes.

He said he immediately saw the effects of missing those 15 days upon stepping back onto the court.

"I lost my conditioning and I lost my timing," Vaughn said.

According to head coach Leonard Hamilton, the timing of the medical issue was disappointing and hindered Vaughn's development. Right when he was hitting his stride on the court, the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule was about to kick in.

"I think most people would tell you that when you have freshmen there needs to be some continuity in the learning process," Hamilton said. "I thought he was just starting to come around (before the medical issue)."

With the Seminoles off to a 1-3 start in ACC play, they are going to need a greater contribution from Vaughn, as well as fellow forward Ryan Reid who just returned to action following a suspension.

"Now I am just trying to get my conditioning back and my touch back so I can contribute," Vaughn said. "I am doing a lot extra running and some extra conditioning trying to get it back. I think once I catch up with those, it will be alright."

The extra effort in practice by Vaughn showed in the nine minutes he played at Wake Forest on Sunday.

"He never could sustain the type of effort that it appears he is able to sustain now," Hamilton said. "I think now he can go three or four minutes now without me being too concerned. I was a little concerned coming out of his 15 day absence with how far we could push him but now I am more comfortable there.

"I feel extremely encouraged by what I have seen in practices. I expect him to be even more of a factor here than he was earlier in the season."

As for Vaughn, he says he is just happy to be playing again, or even practicing, the game he loves.

"I am just glad to be back, able to play, and to help my teammates," Vaughn said. "They helped me. I had a lot of support from my coaches and teammates. When I was out in Cleveland they all called me to make sure I was alright. When I got back they all greeted me at the door. I really am thankful for the support from my teammates. We are one big family here."

Florida State hosts Virginia on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The game will not be televised.

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