When the adrenaline of the Arizona Wildcats' NCAA tournament run finally ended last March, and when his streak of 10 three-pointers finally ended, Jordin Mayes finally admitted something was wrong.
His foot hurt. A lot.
Mayes just didn't really allow himself to think about it before. He was too busy winning games and living off the adrenaline.
"I wasn't really focused on it," said Mayes, who will continue his return from a stress fracture tonight when UA hosts Seattle Pacific in its first exhibition game. "I'd say probably (it hurt) for four games when I was playing. But I didn't really think about it. I told Justin (Kokoskie, UA trainer) I had a little pain in my foot, but we didn't really do anything about it. I just kept playing."
Arizona was glad he did. For all the Derrick Williams' heroics during UA's Elite Eight run, it's also hard to imagine the Wildcats advancing if they didn't have eight points from Mayes against Memphis in their first game and 4-for-4 three-point shooting in the second game against Texas.
Arizona won those first two games by a combined three points, reaching an unexpected NCAA West Regional semifinal. Then the Wildcats received another three-pointer from Mayes in their surprising win over Duke and three assists in the Elite Eight against Connecticut.
The guard's three-point streak finally ended in that UConn game - Mayes was 0 for 3 from long range - and so did the Wildcats' magic.
Back at school, after his foot was finally examined, he was told to rest it for a month.
He went home to Los Angeles and hurt it again during a summer-league game.
"I made a move to the basket and snapped it," Mayes said.
This time, in early July, Mayes underwent surgery for what was determined to be a stress fracture. He missed the majority of the summer on the court and, because the Wildcats were being careful even after he was healed, missed some of the Wildcats' conditioning work.
The foot is better now, UA coach Sean Miller said, but the rest of Mayes isn't quite there yet.
"Getting him on the court and us being smart was our goal," Miller said. "But when you miss in essence 10 weeks, 12 weeks, it really puts you behind. I notice watching Jordan, although he's practicing every day, I believe he's a month away from being in the best physical shape he can be in."
So although it may sound appealing to get out of the early-morning conditioning drills, in this case, Mayes missed them dearly.
The 6-foot-2, 196-pound sophomore is still trying to catch up.
"It was just a process I had to take, sitting out and watching my team do stuff that I couldn't do," Mayes said. "But it was just something that I had to get over and handle my business.…
"I missed a lot of conditioning, but I feel like in practice, I'm getting better."
He has plenty of incentive to catch up.
Mayes averaged 14.2 minutes a game last season while splitting time at point guard with MoMo Jones, but now he's competing with freshman Josiah Turner - and being asked to prepare for minutes at shooting guard, too.
Minutes at either position won't be easy to earn. Turner is a highly touted freshman who is expected to have a major impact, and shooting guard is all but locked up between senior Kyle Fogg and sophomore Nick Johnson - unless Fogg moves over at times to small forward.
"One of the things that's hard for everybody is we have two players we really believe in with Kyle and Nick," Miller said. "If you watched the Red-Blue Game, you saw Nick is an incredible talent.
"And Nick's almost an everyday player in that he's the same on Monday as he is on Friday: He shows up, and he works hard, and because of that, he's getting better."
So if preseason conditioning wasn't able to help Mayes excel this fall, maybe a little competition would help him catch up.
"The good news is that as long as his health is there each week," Miller said, "he's going to be constantly gaining toward being in the best shape possible."
• Tonight's game will be shown on Fox College Sports Pacific (check your cable/satellite listings) and will be replayed by Fox Sports Arizona at 11 p.m.
• Seattle Pacific was picked to finish second in the Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference's coaches poll. The Falcons went 20-10 last season and beat Division I opponents Eastern Washington and Nevada in road exhibitions last season.
• The Wildcats will host two exhibition games this season, also playing Humboldt State on Tuesday, after choosing to play only one in addition to a private scrimmage against Utah last season. "We felt it was better to play two quality Division II teams," Miller said. "Seattle Pacific has been very strong and competitive in their own right."
• What: Seattle Pacific at Arizona, exhibition
• When: 6:30 p.m.
• TV: Fox College Sports (check your cable/satellite guide for channel)