College Sports

Following surgery, former Lancer Javon Pickett is ‘pushing even harder’ toward Mizzou debut

Mizzou basketball signee Javon Pickett discusses how he is spending his time off

Javon Pickett, a Missouri basketball 2018 signee, is waiting to participate in full workouts again. He is recovering from a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
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Javon Pickett, a Missouri basketball 2018 signee, is waiting to participate in full workouts again. He is recovering from a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Javon Pickett would prefer to be playing basketball. The 2017 graduate of Belleville East High School and University of Missouri signee was supposed to spend this year after high school improving at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita.

But a torn labrum in his left shoulder derailed that plan, so he spends his days here at home, where he undergoes physical therapy and waits for medical clearance to practice.

In the weeks after undergoing surgery on his shoulder, he found a new passion. He loves the TV medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“I watched the first episode like two times in a row, trying to understand it,” Pickett said. “I just got hooked. I’m on season nine now.”

By 1 p.m. on a recent Friday, Pickett had already watched two hour-long episodes. He could not decide pick a favorite character. He was torn between George O’Malley and hospital chief Richard Webber.

So this period of limbo — when Pickett is not enrolled in school, around any teammates or able to fully workout — hasn’t been a total drag. But Pickett said that he wants to be at MU already. The shoulder injury has created an extra drive in him.

“He has a sense that he’s behind,” said Rico Sylvester Sr., Pickett’s former AAU coach and a childhood friend of MU coach Cuonzo Martin. “He hasn’t said it, but I know the kid. I think he’ll push himself even harder to prove he’s at that level.”

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Pickett plans to meet with a doctor in Columbia next week, and he hopes to receive clearance to participate in full workouts again.

At East, Pickett was one of the top scorers in the St. Louis area his senior season at 25.9 points per game. He also averaged 6.6 rebounds for the 16-13 Lancers. He initially committed to play at Illinois, but was released from his letter of intent following the firing of head coach John Groce.

Two months later, Martin had been hired at Mizzou and Pickett decided to follow.

But without an available scholarship, Pickett enrolled at Sunrise Christian hoping to improve his shooting and defense. The prep school is also where a teammate turned him onto “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“I didn’t know people died at first,” Pickett said of the soap opera.

He only lasted there about four months in Wichita, though. A teammate pulled down his left arm during a rebounding drill. That caused his arm to pop out of place and go numb. He required surgery.

Pickett has tried to maintain his skills by still doing some ball handling drills. He still shoots, too. He is right handed, so he said injury has not affected that ability much.

Most of the weight training he has done has been focused on his legs, though, and he doesn’t expect to be back to full health until March.

When Pickett is fully healthy, Sylvester expects him and Torrence Watson — another 2018 Mizzou signee who played for Sylvester’s AAU team — to be able to score in different ways for the Tigers. Watson is better off the dribble and more willing to post up. Pickett is the better shooter.

Pickett is the least-celebrated member of the three-man 2018 class Martin has in place. And with the Tigers possibly having three more scholarships available depending on what happens with suspended guard Terrence Phillips, Pickett could become even more of an afterthought.

Sylvester said Pickett knows this. It’s part of the reason Pickett is eager to play again.

“Javon will move in silence,” Sylvester said. “But he wants to silence the critics.”

Aaron Reiss: 816-234-4042, @aaronjreiss