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Paolo Banchero expected to play on Friday after 7-game absence

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No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero is expected to be available to play on Friday as the Orlando Magic host the Philadelphia 76ers in the first game of a back-to-back set.

Banchero has missed the last seven games due to a sprained left ankle suffered on Nov. 7 in a loss to the Houston Rockets. He participated with the team in practice on Wednesday and was removed from the injury report against the Sixers.

The injury was the first major setback Banchero had experienced at any level of basketball. He remained in good spirits throughout his time away from the court and went through each benchmark the team put forth during his rehab process.

Banchero produced his second straight 30-point game against the Rockets prior to the injury, finishing with 30 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. He became the third rookie in team history to record consecutive 30-point games (Shaquille O’Neal, Dennis Scott).

The 20-year-old is averaging 23.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 11 games this season. He is one of two first-year players with multiple 30-point outings and has scored at least 20 points nine times. He is still third in the rookie class in total scoring, despite missing seven games.

“I was in a good rhythm, for sure,” Banchero said on Wednesday. “I definitely felt like I was improving every game and just learning. It sucks I got hurt in the middle of playing well like that but I’m looking forward to coming back whenever I do and picking up where I left off.”

The Sixers and Magic are set to tip off at 7 pm EST.

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Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire

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