Hartman nearing return from groin injury

One of the most encouraging signs for Indiana’s team on Sunday came prior to tip off.

For the first time this season, fifth-year senior forward Collin Hartman joined his teammates as a full participant in pregame warmups.

Hartman, who injured his groin a day before Indiana’s season opener, didn’t play in the 70-53 IU win over South Florida, but his return may not be far away.

Indiana coach Archie Miller said it’s possible Hartman returns later this week — IU hosts Arkansas State on Wednesday and Eastern Michigan on Friday — but the goal is to have him ready for the following week when IU meets No. 1 Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, followed by the conference opener at Michigan on Dec. 2.

“You’ve got to be careful, two games in three days with a guy that has a tender groin, especially with the gauntlet that we have coming after this week, just in terms of the amount of teams we play and the quality of the teams that we play,” Miller said. “I can see where Collin might not be looking towards next week maybe with Eastern Michigan, somewhere in there. But I don’t know.”

It’s been a frustrating start to the year for Hartman, who missed time during the preseason after rolling his ankle in early October. Hartman also missed all of last season with a knee injury.

His only game action since IU’s Sweet 16 loss to North Carolina in March 2016 came earlier this month in Indiana’s exhibition win over the University of Indianapolis.

Hartman played 16 minutes off the bench on Nov. 5, scoring nine points on three 3-pointers and grabbing three rebounds.

“He’s closer,” Miller said. “He’s better running. He’s better jumping. Still not 100 percent laterally. I think we’ll see where he goes over the next couple of days and Arkansas State, and then you have a day in between.”

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