However, in recent times, it has been difficult to witness Miles standing alone at center court, wearing a blue zip-up hoodie, while her teammates engage in defensive drills at Purcell Pavilion. She yearns for the day she can return to practice and immerse herself fully in the game she loves. Right now, basketball is merely a distant friend.
The timeline for her comeback remains uncertain. Despite Miles’ desire to be ready for the season opener against South Carolina in Paris, which is just a month away, it is highly unlikely. Miles suffered a significant right knee injury eight months ago, and expecting her to be back on the court so soon is comparable to expecting Notre Dame football to win a national championship this season or Notre Dame men’s basketball to make the 2024 Final Four.
Prior to mentioning the season opener as a potential return date, Miles cautiously acknowledged the careful steps she must take in her recovery. Her movements still appear restricted, and she seems to be dragging her right leg at times. Patience is vital for a full and healthy recovery, as she intends to have many productive years in the game ahead.
Reading between the lines, it is clear that Miles hopes to make an appearance this season, but there are doubts. Perhaps she will be fit to play by January or February, but performing at her former level seems unlikely. There is apprehension and self-doubt, which may lead head coach Niele Ivey to take a conservative approach and prioritize long-term development over a rushed return.
Could Miles potentially sit out until the 2024-25 season? It is a possibility that cannot be ignored. This healing process is deeply personal, and Ivey is prepared to support Miles, whether she returns soon or takes additional time to recover.
The severity of the injury remains somewhat unclear. Miles chooses not to disclose the full extent and avoids mentioning the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). However, her conversations with former Notre Dame players who endured ACL injuries and Ivey’s own experiences with rehabilitation hint at the likelihood of an ACL tear.
Regardless of the specifics, this injury has been mentally challenging for Miles. She has had to redefine herself beyond her abilities on the court and discover her identity both as a player and as an individual. This self-reflection has prompted changes in her appearance and a newfound willingness to assert herself as a more vocal leader.
Rehabilitation has been manageable, but the hours away from rehab have posed a mental challenge. Like any injured athlete, she longs to return to the court and participate fully in the game she loves. Accepting her current state and the need to watch from the sidelines requires immense mental strength.
If given the opportunity, Miles insists that she is ready to give her all at this very moment. She yearns to run, jump, and compete with the same passion and poise she possessed before her injury. She firmly believes that she will be an even better player once she makes her comeback. However, despite feeling tantalizingly close to a return, the reality is that the journey ahead is still distant.
Enduring this challenging period has allowed Miles to gain a new perspective. She recognizes that basketball does not solely define her worth and understands the importance of love and support from others. Learning to appreciate different aspects of herself has been a valuable lesson.
Perhaps Miles will return to the court this season, but there is also a possibility that she won’t. College basketball would undoubtedly be poorer without her presence. The game needs her as much as she needs the game. Basketball has been a source of fulfillment for Miles, and she has reciprocated by contributing to the sport in meaningful ways.
Only time will reveal whether we will see Miles in action this season or not. Such uncertainty is a part of life.
Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Instagram @tnoieNDI. Contact: (574) 235-6153.
Laura Davis covers the world of basketball with precision. Her articles explore NBA and college basketball, offering game analysis, player profiles, and highlights. Laura’s passion for hoops is evident in her comprehensive basketball coverage.