Robert Johnson dealing with ankle sprain, no timetable for return #iubb

Robert Johnson’s availability for Thursday’s game at Illinois may come down to the wire.

That is, if he’s cleared to participate at all.

On his weekly radio show Monday, IU coach Tom Crean said Johnson is recovering from an ankle sprain suffered late in the second half of Saturday’s win against Purdue.

Johnson had to be carried to the bench by strength and conditioning coach Lyonel Anderson. On Sunday, Johnson was spotted walking in downtown Bloomington while wearing a walking boot on his left foot and carrying a single crutch.

Although Crean said he was unable to offer a definitive timetable for Johnson’s return, the Indiana coach made it clear that he has no plans to rush the sophomore guard back to the floor.

“It’s a definite ankle sprain and we’ll just have to continue to monitor it,” Crean said. “It’s not like we’ll be able to update it constantly. It’s gonna be evaluated over time. There’s no way to predict injuries, let alone an ankle sprain. We’ve got great support … he’s in a 24/7 mindset of care and we’ve got to let him heal.”

Johnson has started 22 of the 28 games in which he’s appeared this season, averaging 8.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists across his 25.5 minutes per game. According to Crean, Johnson has been playing through injuries throughout this season, though the IU coach has declined to specify exactly what has ailed him.

Despite playing at a level less than full health, Johnson has turned in a solid second season at Indiana. In addition to the steadiness and versatility he brings to the offensive end of the floor, Johnson has also developed into arguably IU’s most consistent perimeter defender.

A prolonged absence would leave Indiana’s backcourt alarmingly thin. Having already lost fellow sophomore guard James Blackmon for the season due to a knee injury, IU has only three scholarship guards on the roster in Johnson, point guard Yogi Ferrell and reserve shooter Nick Zeisloft.

Freshman Harrison Niego — who chose to walk on at Indiana rather than accept one of a handful of scholarship offers from mid-major programs — has appeared in 19 games off the bench, averaging 4.8 minutes per game during Big Ten play.

“I think Rob is doing all right,” Ferrell said Saturday. “It’s just the next man stepping up.”