LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State men’s basketball coach Marvin Menzies said Tuesday that injured center Tshilidzi Nephawe was cleared on Tuesday.
Menzies said Nephawe would practice Tuesday for the first time since undergoing surgery the week of Dec. 3 for torn thumb ligaments in his right hand.
“He went to the doctor (Tuesday) and got the green light to tape the hand in practice,” Menzies said. “We will see how that goes. He and I have to sit and make some decisions moving forward whether he will play or not.”
Menzies said a decision has not yet been made whether to redshirt the 6-10 junior from South Africa or move him back into the lineup.
The Aggies leave on Wednesday for Western Athletic Conference games at Texas State (Thursday) and Texas-San Antonio (Saturday) this weekend. It was unclear on Tuesday if Nephawe would travel with the team, although Menzies has stated the team’s intention on working to get Nephawe back on the court this season.
Nephawe started the first nine games at center for the Aggies, averaging 7.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Nephawe last appeared against South Alabama on Dec. 4. Since his departure, freshman center Sim Bhullar and junior Renaldo Dixon have produced at the position. Bhullar has started 12 games, averaging 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game with Dixon coming off the bench for 14.6 minutes per game.
By rule, Nephawe is eligible to receive a medical redshirt or hardship waiver since the injury occurred in the first half of the season and the player appeared in 30 percent or less of the team’s games.
“Chances are (Nephawe) will be physically capable to play but then we have to look at all of the other dynamics and factor in whether to redshirt him or not,” Menzies said. “That includes your academic situation, your ability to develop and have two more years and being able to contribute right now and helping us with our goals we set in the beginning of the year.”
Jason Groves can be reached at (575) 541-5459. Follow him on Twitter @jpgroves.