For some strange reason, the run-up to the 2016-17 college basketball season has produced a rash of unfortunate injuries at some of the top programs.
The latest involves heralded Duke freshman Jayson Tatum, who reportedly injured his foot during the Blue Devils’ Pro Day when the team worked out in front of 50 NBA scouts.
Jonathan Givony of Draft Express reported that he was told by an NBA scout that Tatum appeared to suffer “a stress reaction in his foot” during the workout. A Duke spokesman told the Raleigh News and Observer that Tatum was being evaluated for a foot injury.
A 6-foot-8 wing player out of St. Louis, Tatum is part of a highly-touted Duke freshman class that includes Harry Giles, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson, Javin DeLaurier and Jack White. Tatum scored 18 points in Duke’s recent Blue-White scrimmage.
Giles, who missed his senior high school season because of a torn ACL in his knee, has already undergone another knee surgery since coming to Duke. The timetable for his return is uncertain.
“Harry is still recovering health-wise,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski at ACC Media Day. “He had just a little bit of a setback in September. Not structurally, but we felt he should be playing already, but they had to scope. They kind of had to clean; not the knee he hurt 11 months ago, but the other one. And it was really good.”
And if you remember, Cleveland Cavaliers’ guard Kyrie Irving’s time at Duke was limited to just 11 games during his freshman 2010-11 season because of a foot injury, specifically a torn ligament in his right big toe. Hopefully, that won’t be the case with Tatum.
Duke was ranked No. 1 in the initial USA Today coaches’ college basketball poll, followed by Kansas, Villanova, Kentucky and Oregon.
Thing is, Duke isn’t the only team that has been hit by the early-season injury bug.
▪ Also Tuesday, we found out that UCLA freshman center Ike Anigbogu tore the meniscus in his right knee last week and will miss 4-6 weeks for the Bruins, who play Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Dec. 3.
Rated No. 17 by Scout.com, the 6-foot-10, 250-pound Anigbogu could return by Thanksgiving, according to Clay Fowler of the Orange County Register. Anigbogu was expected to team with fellow freshman T.J. Leaf to give UCLA a strong presence in the frontcourt.
The Bruins are already without sophomore guard Prince Ali, who underwent meniscus surgery in July and isn’t expected to be ready for the team’s season-opener on Nov. 11. And Bryce Alford has been bothered by a hamstring strain, though that is not believed to be serious.
▪ Meanwhile, Michigan State, which plays Kentucky on Nov. 15 in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York, has seen more than its fair share of early injuries.
The Spartans lost 6-9 graduate transfer Ben Carter, who injured his knee late last month and was forced to undergo surgery. Carter transferred to East Lansing from UNLV, where he suffered a torn ACL in January. Before that, Carter spent two seasons at Oregon.
Compounding the problem, head coach Tom Izzo lost center Gavin Schilling, who is expected to have surgery on his injured right knee sometime in the near future. Izzo reported that the swelling has subsided in Schilling’s injured knee, but the doctors haven’t decided on a surgery date.
A 6-9 senior from Chicago, Schilling averaged 3.8 points and 3.1 rebounds for the Spartans last season. He went from averaging 16.9 minutes per game as a sophomore to 12.5 minutes as a junior.
Michigan State opens its season Nov. 11 against Arizona in Hawaii.
▪ At North Carolina, junior Theo Pinson is out indefinitely because of a broken bone in his right foot. There is not a definite timetable for the return of Pinson, known as an excellent defender and paaser.
“Hopefully we can get him back before the end of the season,” said UNC head coach Roy Williams in a statement from the school.
The 2015-16 national runner-ups open the season Nov. 11 at Tulane. The Tar Heels play Kentucky as part of the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas on Dec. 17.
▪ At Indiana, senior forward Collin Hartman could miss the season after undergoing surgery on his left knee. Hartman injured the knee during a non-contact drill in an individual workout on Sept. 20. He underwent surgery on Sept. 26.
“Obviously I would love to be back,” Hartman told Inside the Hall. “Who knows when I’ll be back. Early (season), late, middle, I don’t know. I just have to stay focused and literally take it day-by-day.”
Hartman averaged five points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists for the Hoosiers last season. He scored two points -- a basket off a drive with 11:24 left that gave the Hoosiers a 45-44 lead -- in IU’s 73-67 NCAA Tournament second-round win over Kentucky in Des Moines last season.
▪ Up at Cincinnati, Xavier’s Kaiser Gates underwent knee surgery last Thursday and is expected to miss the start of the Muskies’ season. Doctors removed “small particles of cartilage in his left knee,” according to the school.
A 6-8 forward from Alpharetta, Georgia, Gates played in 30 games as a true freshman last season, averaging 3.2 points per game. He was expected to play a bigger role for coach Chris Mack’s team this season.
▪ Florida’s Dontay Bassett will miss his freshman season because of a stress fracture in his foot. A 6-9 forward from Oakland, Bassett is considered a project who was not expected to be an important factor for the Gators this season.
▪ And Minnesota, where Richard Pitino may be fighting for his job, lost junior forward Davonte Fitzgerald for the season to knee surgery just one week into practice. A transfer from Texas A&M, Fitzgerald tore his ACL and medial and lateral meniscus. He averaged 3.5 points and 1.6 rebounds as a sophomore at A&M.
Minnesota finished 8-23 overall, including 2-16 in the Big 10 last season. The Golden Gophers lost 14 straight games in one stretch. They are 51-51 in three seasons under the 34-year-old Pitino, who opens this year on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Kentucky basketball schedule 2016-17
Big Blue Madness
vs. Clarion *
vs. Asbury *
vs. Stephen F. Austin
vs. Canisius 1
vs. Michigan State 2
vs. Duquesne 1
vs. Cleveland State 1
vs. UT Martin 1
vs. Arizona State 3
vs. Hofstra 4
vs. North Carolina 5
at Ole Miss
vs. Texas A&M
at Mississippi State
vs. South Carolina
vs. Kansas 6
at Texas A&M
All times Eastern. Games in Rupp Arena are Bold
* Exhibition games
1 Bluegrass Showcase (Lexington)
2 Champions Classic (New York)
3 Atlantis Showcase (Bahamas)
4 Barklays Center (Brooklyn)
5 CBS Sports Classic (Las Vegas)
6 SEC/Big 12 Challenge (Lexington)
7 SEC Tournament (Nashville)
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/sports/college/kentucky-sports/uk-basketball-men/article100363132.html#storylink=cpy