MANHATTAN — Dean Wade's time away from the basketball court because of an injured foot may soon come to an end.
The senior forward is expected to return to Kansas State's lineup within the next 10 days, coach Bruce Weber said Thursday. There's a chance he will even be ready to play for the Wildcats in their next game, an 11 a.m. tip at Iowa State on Saturday.
"I don't want to say yes or no, but we are moving forward," Weber said. "Hopefully, if there is no major setback here in the next week or 10 days we hope to have him back."
That is excellent news for the K-State basketball team, which has struggled without its best player during the past six games.
Wade, the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, hasn't suited up for the Wildcats since he tore a tendon in his right foot during a victory over Georgia State on Dec. 15. He left the court and needed crutches to walk to the locker room. Weber said Wade would need anywhere from three to eight weeks to recover.
The Wildcats have looked lost on offense without him. They started 0-2 in Big 12 play and struggled mightily shooting the ball before storming back from a 21-point deficit to beat West Virginia on Wednesday.
Wade was averaging 13.6 points and 7.8 rebounds before his injury. Those numbers rank second and first on the team, respectively.
It appears he is nearly ready to join the starting lineup. Wade has returned to practice and looked fine walking in street clothes before games.
"He is going to practice a little bit today and then we will just see how he does," Weber said. "That is kind of our next step. He has done workouts, he has done running, he has done walking, he has done jumping in the water. So now get him on the court and let him practice a little bit."
K-State plays at Iowa State on Saturday, at Oklahoma on Wednesday and then returns home for a clash with TCU at Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 19.
Wade could be a candidate to play in any of those games, but the Wildcats are unlikely to rush him back into action before he is fully ready. He has a history of foot injuries and missed the majority of last year's NCAA Tournament with a stress fracture in his left foot.