The explosiveness hasn’t returned yet for Jeremiah Francis, and the same goes for his conditioning and the lift on his jump shots.

They will return in time. What is most important for the Pickerington Central senior is that, nearly six months removed from a surgical procedure on his left knee, the North Carolina commitment is back on the court playing basketball without restriction. After playing on the main court at Value City Arena on Thursday afternoon as the Tigers took part in Ohio State’s team camp, Francis was all smiles as he discussed his return to action.

“It feels pretty good,” he said. “Kind of struggled a little bit today, but I know it will all come back to me at one time again. It’s good to be back out there, getting up and down the court again.”

Francis remembers the date he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair seven bone chippings and cartilage damage. It was Dec. 12, 2017, and he had been hoping to be out for only a few weeks. Instead, he missed the rest of his junior season and was reduced to being a spectator as Central reached the state semifinals.

247Sports ranks Francis as a four-star recruit and the No. 2 overall prospect from Ohio. Throughout his injury and rehab, Francis said the North Carolina coaching staff has remained supportive and in contact weekly.

“I’ve already felt like a family, going on the couple visits I’ve gone on,” he said. “Coach (Roy) Williams, I feel like I’m his son already. That’s how I feel. We have a close bond already, and (assistant coach Steve) Robinson as well and the rest of the staff. They’re great guys and I love talking to them.”