SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -John Bryant, all 6-feet, 11-inches and 275 pounds of him, didn't even know he'd been stabbed in the back three times. Then a friend mentioned the blood, and the Santa Clara center reached behind and got it all over his hand.
``I didn't feel anything,'' Bryant recalled Wednesday in his first interview since the ordeal. ``The Adrenalin was just pumping. It was a shock.''
Now, the West Coast Conference's top rebounder and shot blocker and second-leading scorer last season is back on the court after an altercation late last month outside a party only a few blocks from the Leavey Center where the Broncos play. The 18-year-old man who injured him has been arrested and faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon and second-degree robbery.
``I'm back to 100 percent right now,'' Bryant said. ``I have a couple of scars, nothing big. It's not bad.''
n knocked Bryant to the ground and another came at him from behind and stabbed him. He was knifed twice on the right side of his lower back and once on the left - with three inch-long scars to show for it. He needed 14 stitches to close the wounds.
``He was talking and we said, 'We don't want to mess with you' and started walking away,'' Bryant said. ``He's not a good character. You could just tell. Wrong place, wrong time.''
Bryant considers himself fortunate - and he said he's learned a lesson about not putting himself in situations where bad things could happen. He knows this could have turned out much worse or even been life-threatening.
``You reach to your back and there's all that blood and you wonder what's going on. I was a little scared,'' he said. ``I was lucky not having any internal injuries. It just really put things in perspective. The coaches are always talking about being in the right place at the right time.''
Bryant didn't recognize the suspect, who isn't a student in the area and allegedly had already robbed and held a group at knife point before encountering Bryant.
Bryant, who was briefly hospitalized in the early hours of Sept. 27, flagged down a passing police officer, and Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating and members of his staff were at Bryant's side within about 30 minutes of his admission to the hospital.
ce Department and was helpful handling matters, too, Bryant said.
His current teammates have been supportive and Keating has used this as an example for his players.
``Coach Keating is always saying how, especially on this campus with no football team, we're out there and people know who we are,'' Bryant said. ``You don't want to put yourself in these types of situations. This just reiterated that.''
Bryant was cleared to begin working out again within a week of having his stitches removed and was at full strength when official practices began last Friday. His team was picked to finish fourth in the much-improved WCC, which sent three teams to the NCAA tournament for the first time last March: Gonzaga, Saint Mary's and San Diego.
``He's still going through it,'' freshman guard Kevin Foster said of Bryant. ``He's fighting. He's a really good teammate.''
These kinds of things don't usually happen at Santa Clara, a tight-knit campus community in San Francisco's South Bay suburbs just outside of San Jose.
``That's why it was so shocking,'' Broncos athletic director Dan Coonan said Wednesday. ``It's hard to say you're lucky when something like that happens to you. But he's responded remarkably well and put it past him.
a player who weighed 360 pounds upon arriving as a freshman. He now has a nutritionist and hopes he has established some lifelong healthy habits when it comes to eating.
Bryant, who grew up in nearby San Pablo, started 30 of 31 games last season as a junior, leading Santa Clara with averages of 18.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
Keating is counting on Bryant having another big year. Bryant has taken charge of this program, becoming not only the team's best player but also its hardest worker - something that's rubbing off on his young teammates.
``It's one of those deals where it can always be worse,'' Keating said. ``It's one of those unfortunate deals where now we can put it behind us and John's been able to recover from it. Had anyone not known it happened, you wouldn't know it happened. John's done a great job of accepting the reality that it did happen, not trying to deny it and continuing to stay focused and do the right thing. There's always a positive you can take out of the negative in most cases and this is definitely one where we did. It helped us check ourselves before the season started.''
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