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Quietly, without fanfare, Kendall Brown returned to game action on Sunday. Brown is a rookie on the Pacers, the 48th pick in the draft.

For the past six weeks, he’s been taking it easy and mostly resting. That’s not easy for a young, athletic individual who is still a teenager.

On Dec. 12, after a few months of something not feeling right, he underwent an MRI on his right leg and the scan revealed a stress reaction of his right tibia. That’s an overuse injury and one that requires rest. If not caught until later, it may have developed into a stress fracture and needed surgery.

“I was playing on it for a couple months, going to practice and games and playing through it,” Brown said on Wednesday after a Mad Ants win. “I just thought it was a muscle thing. And then we took an MRI and that’s when it showed the stress reaction. That’s when they told me to take a break and chill.

“I felt it and we did treatment for it, but I didn’t know if it was anything serious so I just kept playing through it.”

Before the diagnosis, he had played 31 minutes for the Mad Ants on Dec. 10. And a few days earlier, on Dec. 7, he played five minutes for the Pacers in Minnesota — his home state.

Consider his circumstance too. He’s green when it comes to the NBA, still has a lot of development to go. Because he wasn’t getting much playing time with the Pacers, he spent more time in the G League with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants — which was the plan all along.

Guys want to be tough and believe they can play through anything. So the last thing they want to deal with is something that could hold them back. But thank goodness he finally spoke up.

“It’s been a lot of rehab, sitting on the bench watching my teammates play,” he said. “Being off, I spent a lot of time with the Pacers — in the film room and courtside just watching everything. It was really good to see everyone play and the speed of the game. I think it helped me a lot.”

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Brown began ramping up to return to the court a few weeks ago. First, lifting in the weight room and then, seeing how he felt after light jogs (as seen above). He returned to practice last week ahead of his quiet, unannounced return to game action on Sunday with the Mad Ants.

Brown is starting, but he’s on a 15-minute restriction so he only plays in the first half.

“Whenever someone goes through an injury, it’s never just gonna go away and out of their head,” he said. “I think it comes with time and just getting used to getting back on the court, playing and getting back in rhythm.”

Get to know Scott agness 11 year pacer beat writer

Team president Kevin Pritchard said Brown was a top-20 player on their draft board. And when they saw him available at No. 48 and could acquire that pick, they did just that — drafting Brown for his athleticism and his defense.

“Working on defense and ways I can affect the game without scoring,” Brown said of his focus while playing with the Mad Ants. “When I go back up top, we’ve got our scorers. So I’m working on rebounding, defense and affecting the game in many ways.”

He acknowledges that it’s going to take a few weeks to get back in game rhythm and get comfortable again on the court. Not playing for six weeks probably felt more like years. Throughout the challenges, he highlights veterans James Johnson, Buddy Hield and T.J. McConnell as teammates who’ve been in his corner and helped him along the way.

Before the injury, Brown had appeared in six G League games and averaged 11.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. It’s easy to forget that he’s just 19 years old, entering the NBA Draft after just one season at Baylor University.

Scott Agness is in his 11th season as a beat writer covering the Indiana Pacers. Click here to read more of his work at

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