Azzi Fudd: Think ACL surgery will keep me away from Steph Curry's camp?
Azzi Fudd, 16, is the No. 1 women's basketball prospect in the 2021 class. She is a two-time Gatorade player of the year in the District of Columbia and is the first sophomore to be named the Gatorade national player of the year in girls' basketball.
I have been invited back to Stephen Curry's Elite Camp this August in Oakland, and my goal is to reclaim my title as 3-point champion. I've been shooting pretty well lately -- even though my range isn't quite back out to the arc yet -- so I'm going to set my standards high. I think moving from spot to spot in the competition is going to be the hardest part for me.
Steph's camp is one of the only plans that remains unchanged for a summer that hasn't gone the way I expected. Back in April, shortly after my sophomore season at St. John's College [High School in Washington, D.C.] ended, I was playing 3-on-3 with USA Basketball in Colorado Springs [Colorado]. It was the third game of the day. I was playing against a really aggressive defender, so I tried to go harder. I did a hop-for-power, was in the air, and in the moment, all I remember is falling, my leg giving out and pain.
I knew whatever had happened was not good. I kept thinking about [Baylor star] Lauren Cox. Her injury during the NCAA title game looked awful, but it was just, like, a sprain. So I thought maybe it just felt way worse than it was.
I got so many texts. I think it took me about three to four days just to respond to all of them. It was nice. My teammates who I play with on the USA team were texting me and checking up and making sure things were going OK.
All I could do was think about how my entire summer was going to be completely different than what I was hoping for and anticipating. Even now, there are times, especially at night, when I just think of all the things that I wanted to do or that I could have been doing. But instead, it's rehab 24/7.
We went to my mom's doctor [Dr. K. Donald Shelbourne] in Indianapolis, because she tore both of her ACLs and this was the same doctor that did her surgery. He first put me in a cast to heal my MCL naturally. You can have surgery to heal the MCL, but the doctor has all this data that says if you repair the MCL and ACL together, your leg becomes stiffer.
I then went back to Indiana to have surgery on my ACL on May 29. The surgery went as well as it could. They used the patella tendon from my good leg as a graft, which is actually a good thing, because I had patellar tendinitis and that got rid of it.
I had to stay there for a week on bed rest. It started off really well, but as the week went on, I got really bored. I was barely on my phone, so I watched a lot of Netflix. I'm the worst when it comes to starting shows, because I never have time to finish them. I think I watched a total of six seasons of shows -- about a season a day. [Oregon recruit] Sydney Parrish came -- her and her mom -- because she's from Indy. She came and brought me lunch one day and hung out with me.
The toughest part when I got home, at first, was definitely being in the gym, being around everyone and watching them all play. But now I'm over that. Now it's just hard because I can't do anything.
My days start with rehab in the morning. The [doctors] want me to do all of the rehab on my own. I have a list of stuff that I do, and I have to do it three times a day. In the morning, I'll do a list of stuff; then after, I'll go to the gym, shoot. Then do more exercises.
My right leg, my ACL leg, is mostly working on bending and getting my range of motion back. My left leg is actually the weaker leg, so I have to strengthen my left leg by doing leg presses. I don't have a leg press in my house, so I have to go to the gym all the time. It's really inconvenient. Then I'll go home, ice; and later, I'll go back to the gym again.
When I do my rehab and it hurts -- especially the bending, that's the worst part -- all I'm thinking about when I do all of that is getting stronger and preparing myself to be back on the court.
My mom has gone through this, so she is extremely realistic. She was just, like, "Honestly surgery is going to suck, after is going to suck, physical therapy is going to be awful. It's going to hurt, but you're going to need to be tough and push through." She also knows what I'm going through. There will be days where I'm just upset and I don't know why -- I'm just upset. And she's like, "Yeah, it's just one of those days." She understands.
It is completely up to me when I come back -- how my leg is feeling, how I'm doing with the rehab -- so I'm not going to rush it. When I'm ready, I'm ready. If I'm not ready, then I'm not ready. I want to play. My biggest fear was tearing my ACL. Now, my biggest fear is coming back too soon, doing something to make it worse or reinjuring it. I am not going to do that or anything to harm it.
Now for some good news ... I passed my driving test! It's only like four months overdue, but it's OK.
Next, I'm flying to Los Angeles for the Gatorade awards and the ESPYS! I never thought I'd be doing that when I was 16. I'm really nervous for it, but I'm really excited to see everyone.
Then, it's back to the gym.