The word that Collin Sexton uses more than any other to describe the last few weeks is “frustrating.”

“Very frustrating, very, very frustrating,” Sexton said. “But I know I’m gonna be good.”

“You can’t just do the same thing over and over because your body gets to be kinda lazy or starts getting used to that. Sometimes you gotta go back to the drawing board and change the agenda.” — Jazz guard Collin Sexton

After dealing with a right hamstring strain earlier in the season that forced him to miss 12 games, Sexton has missed the last 13 games and counting because of a left hamstring strain.

Though there are only nine games remaining in the regular season, Sexton has no doubt that he’ll be back before the 2022-23 campaign is over.

“Absolutely,” he said Friday night when asked if he would play this season. “I feel good and I’m very, very excited with my progression and just really ready to get back out there and ready to play. So, I have to just continue to trust the trainers, continue to trust everyone on the staff and just continue to let them lead me.”

Sexton is in the final stages of his return-to-play program and has been trying to replicate game reps in practice settings in recent days. But, since the Jazz haven’t had a ton of time to really play five-on-five at practice, it’s been a little difficult to simulate game action, so the coaching staff has had to improvise and get creative.

But Sexton’s absence from the court has not just been about getting him feeling like he can play again and recovering from a single hamstring strain.

Part of the reason the process has dragged on now for more than a month is because Sexton and the Jazz’s team of medical staff, trainers and coaches are trying to strengthen Sexton’s body in a way that prevents the same thing from happening again.

“I don’t want to ever have to revisit hamstring issues,” Sexton said. “Now we’re just trying to correct everything and get everything right so we know what works for me and works for my body so that we can make sure that I don’t have to miss games from now to moving forward.”

In order to do that, Sexton has been incorporating different types of exercises, stretching, treatment and strength conditioning into his routine with the ultimate goal of maintaining his explosiveness and athleticism by having a foundation that can handle it in a healthy way.

“You can’t just do the same thing over and over because your body gets to be kinda lazy or starts getting used to that,” Sexton said. “Sometimes you gotta go back to the drawing board and change the agenda.”

Of course, the whole process wouldn’t be on brand for Sexton if it wasn’t taken to another level. The ever-competitive guard has insisted not only on not falling behind during his absence, but he’s also insisted that he adds to his game and improves.

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So, he’s been watching film, working on his finishing, shooting, his attention to detail within the Jazz’s offense and defense, picking the brain of coaches, teammates, officials and anyone that might have some insight or wisdom to share. He’s been watching the games intensely from the sidelines, offering his insights to his non-injured teammates and asking what they’re seeing when they’re on the court in different situations.

“We’re working day and night, early in the morning, even before practice and before shootarounds to get back and also to work on my craft,” Sexton said. “So when I do come back, I can just fit right in and be ready to go. And I feel like my craft has gotten better. I feel like I’ve gotten better even though I haven’t played games.”

While Sexton has been out, it’s been an opportunity for Talen Horton-Tucker, Kris Dunn and even Ochai Agbaji to get more time playing as primary ball handlers. Sexton said he’s encouraged his teammates, been excited for them and leaned on them for encouragement as well.

And although Sexton has been their biggest cheerleader and supporter on the bench, and has been proud of what they’ve done and how much they’ve grown in larger roles, he can’t wait to get back out on the court.

The crowd and Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) react after Sexton hit a three point shot as Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets play at Vivint Arena on opening night in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022.
The crowd and Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton react after Sexton hit a 3-pointer as Jazz and Nuggets play at Vivint Arena on opening night in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News