If he had his way, Dallas Walton obviously would much rather be on the court, swatting shots at one end of the floor and providing the Colorado Buffaloes with the occasional emphatic finish at the other end.
But that wasn't in the cards this basketball season for Walton, the 7-foot forward from Arvada West who was lost to a preseason torn ACL in his right knee. While the Buffaloes certainly still have time to turn around what so far has been a disappointing 2018-19 season heading into Thursday night's late date at Cal, Walton's injury arguably could be regarded as the tipping point for those frustrations.
Ever so slowly, however, Walton is doing a little more work on the floor. And in the meantime, he is intent on making the most of his time away from competition.
Earlier this month, Walton and CU track athlete Madie Boreman represented CU at the Black Student-Athlete summit in Austin, Texas.
"I'm going through the (rehabilitation) process, I might as well have a chance to enlighten myself and give myself another opportunity by going to an event like this where I can network and meet a bunch of really, really interesting and cool people," Walton said. "I can help out the school in terms of diversity and inclusion.
"It was mind-opening for me in terms of finishing school and opportunities for fellowships. None of these things I thought about too much."
Walton and Boreman were accompanied by former CU football player Medord Moorer, now CU's associate director of academics and development. While Walton still hopes a professional basketball career is in his future, whether it's in the NBA or overseas, at this point he also recognizes that his latest major knee surgery was the third ACL reconstruction he has endured since his sophomore year of high school (Walton twice tore his left ACL at Arvada West).
If college is supposed to be a time when young men and women expand their horizons, Walton welcomed the opportunity at the Black Student-Athlete summit as a chance at least dip his elongated toes into new waters. Since Walton already took a redshirt season, and should be in line for a sixth season of college basketball if he ultimately is granted a medical hardship he is more than qualified for, the idea there is much more he can do with his educational opportunities is dawning on Walton.
"It definitely makes you think about it more," Walton said. "Even with the injuries, the dreams and goals I have for myself are still there. But it's also knowing that I'm getting an opportunity to do more with my education than I guess a typical four-year guy would be able to do. I can go to graduate school, go for my doctorate, it's actually a possibility for me that I can actually be considering."
Of course, Walton made the short jaunt from Arvada to Boulder to play basketball, and his recovery from his latest knee injury remains on track. Walton has begun doing remedial shooting exercises, and he recently graduated from range-of-motion exercises to light weight workouts on his injured knee.
"I'm progressing really well right now," Walton said. "What I love about this time going through it is I have lot more resources available to me. Every day I'm able to do something — rehab, stretching, shooting with (assistant Mike) Rohn after practice or before practice. Back in high school there would be stretches of days before I'd rehab again. I think it's helping my progress a lot.