After having foot surgery in March of his freshman season, more than one year and eight months passed before Malcolm Brogdon was able to take the floor at John Paul Jones Arena again.
The UVa sophomore guard redshirted last season, while recovering from surgery.
"It was extremely tough," he says of being shut down in November of last season. Brogdon adds that it was "really disheartening to have to sit down and watch my teammates play without me."
As much as it was hurting him to sit around and watch, it was also helping.
"He's become so much smarter about the game," senior forward Akil Mitchell said of Brogdon. "He's become a student of the game. He studies film, he pulls me aside and tells me little things that he sees, and I can do the same thing with him. It's made him a lot better player in the long run."
During his redshirt season, Brogdon says he spent a lot of time watching film of himself and finding ways to improve his game once he was allowed to return to game action.
"In terms of always playing to my right hand since I'm right handed, I think that was a weakness of mine before I got injured, and now I can got to my left, because I know that about myself, watching film, knowing how defenses play me."
Brogdon returned to the floor for the Cavaliers on Nov. 8 against James Madison. He is one of only three 'Hoos to have started all 10 games this season, along with seniors Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell.
On a UVa team that features balance and depth, Brogdon is the leader in minutes per game, averaging 27.5 through 10 games. He is second to Harris in points per game with 10.3 and leads the team in rebounds, grabbing 5.2 boards a game.
"I'm not satisfied yet with how I'm playing, but I am contributing," said Brogdon. "I'd like to keep contributing so we can can win some more games and I can help my team."
"It's honestly inspiring to see how frustrated he was with the injury, to know how upset he was to not be able to be out there with his teammates," said Mitchell. "To see him work as hard as he has, it's really inspiring. He's really transformed his game and he's grown up as a man. It makes all of us proud."
Brogdon's time away from the court changed the way he approaches certain parts of his game, but it also changed the way he approaches every game and every practice that he gets to play in.
"Before I was injured, I took for granted just being out there. I know it's hard for us to come out here sometimes when we don't have school, we feel sluggish. But we've got to get it done.
"Now I don't take that for granted anymore. I don't come out here with that mindset. I come out here with the mindset that this could be my last day. I never know what could happen with my foot or anything else, and I try to play like that and embrace it."