Mount Washington — Bullitt East star Lindsey Duvall, who has committed to play at the University of Kentucky, will miss at least four to six months because of a tumor discovered on her left leg, she announced at a news conference in the school's library on Wednesday afternoon.
The tumor, a growth on her tibia near the bottom of her left knee, will sideline Duvall for all of her junior season.
She started experiencing symptoms during her sophomore season.
"It sort of hurt last year during the season but it would go away," Duvall said. "But when I was practicing and stuff, it wouldn't go away. And it's sort of bigger now."
Duvall will undergo surgery Thursday morning at Norton Cancer Institute in Louisville, during which doctors will determine what type of tumor she has. She'll have to be on crutches for four to six weeks following surgery.
About four weeks ago doctors identified the growth as being either a chondroblastoma or a giant cell tumor.
Chondroblastomas, also called Codman's tumors, are benign growths that most commonly occur in male patients 25-years-old or under, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. They usually develop at the ends of long bones, such as those in the leg.
Giant cell tumors occur most of the time in the end portion of long bones near joints and occur in approximately one person per million in a year. They usually are benign as well, Duvall said.
If it were a giant cell tumor, Bullitt East Coach Chris Stallings said, the surgery would require "a little bit more bone" to be removed than if it is a chondroblastoma and bone cement would have to be used. A bone graft would be performed if it is found to be a chondroblastoma.
Stallings said all of the colleges involved in the recruitment of Duvall — she's ranked as the No. 10 nationally in the class of 2017 — were aware of the development surrounding Duvall's health. She committed to UK last week over Louisville and Michigan.
"Through that whole process, especially with the last three, they really looked after Lindsey and cared for her as more than just a player," Stallings said. "... It meant a lot that UK stood behind her."
The pain is "off and on," Duvall said, at times flaring up when she sleeps. She noticed it would act up last season when she would step quickly while playing defense.
Stallings said the tumor, "about the size of a grape," has not damaged other areas around the knee. "As far as her joints, her ligaments, all that looks really good," Stallings said. "It hasn't affected that part of it."
Duvall and her coach were confident she'd play during her senior season. She's nearing 2,000 points over her career, which started in seventh grade. She averaged 23.7 points and 7.5 rebounds in the 2014-15 season, guiding the Chargers to an appearance in the 6th Region championship game.
Duvall said she plans to watch games from the bench this season. Stallings has told Duvall she'll be a part of "whatever we do here."
He even joked that she might still see the court in the coming months. "I told her she had to get better pretty quick so she could be our technical free-throw shooter," Stallings said. "She looked at me with a sly grin and said 'Are you serious?' and I said 'Yes I am.'
"She said 'All right then' and she perked up a little bit."