Ryan Arcidiacono Returns After Rehab
Twenty-three players are on the court this week at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., vying for one of 12 roster spots on the 2012 USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team. All 23 arrived with accolades and awards to their credit, and Ryan Arcidiacono of Neshaminy High School in Pennsylvania is no different. What is different about Arcidiacono, however, is that his accolades stopped after the 2010-11 season -- the last season he played as a high school athlete.
After averaging 20.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game to help his team to the state quarterfinals and a 22-7 record as a junior in 2010-11, Arcidiacono was named the Courier Times Player of the Year and to the Philadelphia Inquirer All-Southeastern Pennsylvania first team. That spring he was sidelined by back pain and later that summer learned he would have to have surgery to repair a herniated disc.
"When I first was hurt, I didn't know I was going to miss the upcoming basketball season, so I was still optimistic about it," Arcidiacono said. "Then it became September and October, and I realized I wasn't going to be able to play. At that point, I just wanted to get my surgery done and rehab the best that I could to get back on the court to be able to play again."
Arcidiacono is back on the court and playing again, not just with USA Basketball this week at the U18 training camp, but also at Villanova, where he will play basketball as a freshman in 2012-13.
"I haven't played in any tournaments or anything since I've been back," Arcidiacono said. "I'm actually up at school now, so I've been working out with the team, and I feel great. After surgery I was rehabbing, and now I'm back. I feel one hundred percent."
It would be understandable for a player in Arcidiacono's position to feel a step behind or a bit nervous, but there is no hesitation when he says he is neither.
"I think I've been doing fine with my workouts and the workouts with the team. I feel like if I play my game I'll have a good shot, so hopefully I make the (USA) team."
And while he wasn't on the court with his high school team this past season, he was on the sidelines throughout.
"I went to pretty much every practice and every game. I learned just to play every game like it's your last. You never know. I didn't know I was going to get hurt and miss my whole senior season. I got hurt in March right after the end of the season, and I didn't know I was going to miss my senior season. So, I just realized I needed to strengthen my back and every part of my body so this wouldn't happen again."
Perhaps Arcidiacono draws some of his mental toughness from his father, who played Division I football at Villanova from 1976-80 and was a team captain.
"He's been laid-back, but when we work out, he pushes me," Arcidiacono said of his father. "He gets me with the right trainers and the right people to help me be the best I can be. (After I got injured) he helped me out, but it wasn't about motivating me, he was telling me to keep it up and that I'd get better."
His father was just one of the people Arcidiacono credits with helping him get through the difficult journey that is rehab.
"It was my parents and the people around me -- I've got a good group of core friends and people who really care about me. They helped me get through it and kept pushing me to be the best I could be after the injury."
Back at full strength, Arcidiacono points to his comptitive nature when asked what it is he does best on the court
"I want to be a tough guard; I want to compete the hardest; I want to play the best as with my team, play with pride. I have a great opportunity to be on a USA team, so I'm going to take pride in it. I want to represent my country if I can, so I'll do whatever I can to get there."
Whatever it takes is his attitude, but Arcidiacono admits he is not sure what to expect during training camp.
"People told me to drink plenty of water, and I've heard mixed reviews about training camp. I've heard that it's really hard, and I've heard that some people are exaggerating. I'm not going to worry about it. We will see after the first couple of workouts."
The first session of training camp was on Tuesday night, and the players will have two-a-day practices through June 11. Finalists for the team that will represent the USA in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, which will be played on June 16-20 in Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Brazil, are expected to be announced on Thursday, June 7, and the 12-member team will be named before the team departs for South America on June 12.