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Aleem Ford, State Journal generic photo

Aleem Ford averaged 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 33 games last season, including 20 starts, and shot 40.9 percent from 3-point range.

When Aleem Ford was told in late October he’d have to undergo knee surgery, the sophomore forward on the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team hoped he’d return to the lineup sometime in December.

Nobody was more thrilled than Ford that he didn’t have to wait that long.

Ford appeared in all three of the Badgers’ games in the Battle 4 Atlantis, playing a total of 14 minutes after missing UW’s first three games of the season.

“It was just a little different to jump right back into the swing of things,” Ford said after UW’s 53-46 loss to Virginia in the title game on Friday. “After I got out there for a little while, I felt a little more comfortable. But my knee felt great.”

Ford knows it’ll take some time to shake the rust off. He only started running last week and didn’t return to practice until Tuesday, and even then he was limited in the number of possessions he got.

“I need to get a few practices under my belt,” Ford said.

Ford’s return to game action  he played seven minutes in UW’s 62-46 win over Stanford on Wednesday in the opening game on Paradise Island  came exactly three weeks after he underwent surgery on Oct. 31 to repair the lateral meniscus in his left knee.

He was injured two days earlier in practice while making a cut.

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“It was just an awkward step,” Ford said.

That practice was the day after Ford scored a team-high 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting during a closed scrimmage against Iowa State.

After a strong offseason in which he added muscle, Ford was eager for the regular season to begin so he could build on a redshirt freshman season in which he averaged 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 33 games, including 20 starts.

“I was definitely feeling the best since I’ve been here,” he said.

Then the injury occurred.

Still, Ford is confident he can get back to where he was a month ago. Production from the bench has been sporadic early in the season, but Ford is hoping to help in that area by giving the Badgers frontcourt some much-needed depth.

“I feel like we’re a really deep team,” Ford said. “Once I get back out there, I just want to be able to do my part and help off the bench.”

Bucky!

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