Kyrie Irving Cleared for Practice: Does That Mean He'll Play?

James PattersonContributor IMarch 4, 2011

Duke's Kyrie Irving was cleared on Friday to resume light practice.
Duke's Kyrie Irving was cleared on Friday to resume light practice.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski announced in a press conference Friday that freshman point guard Kyrie Irving was cleared by doctors to begin practice-related activities, but stopped short of saying Irving would appear in any game action this season.

"He is not in our cross hairs," said Kryzewski in regards to Irving seeing any more playing time this season.

Irving went down with a right toe injury after stepping on the foot of Butler's Matt Howard on Dec. 4. He hasn't played in any games since.

Irving averaged 17.4 points and 5.1 assists in eight games for Duke, including an impressive 31 points in Cameron Indoor Stadium against Michigan State on Dec. 1.

Doctors opted not to perform surgery on the toe, instead putting a protective cast on Irving's right foot until early February. Since then, the freshman was in a protective boot. That changed today, when doctors cleared him to wear normal shoes full time.

Despite the injury, Irving is still projected as a top-three pick in this year's NBA Draft. Friend and potential future teammate Austin Rivers—who committed to Duke earlier this year—said in an interview this week he believes Irving is 50/50 in terms of coming back to Duke next year or entering the draft.

The Blue Devils play North Carolina for the ACC regular season championship on Saturday, and are still in contention for a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.