C.J. McCollum has missed only one game in his storied career to date. The first — but not likely to be the last — was a December 20th game at North Texas, which his team won without him. He made today’s start against VCU and made it partway through the first half before he attempted to drive through the center of the Havoc defense and left the court favoring his left leg. The Mountain Hawks lost the game 59-55, but the team, and McCollum, may have lost a good deal more than that.
TV cameras captured McCollum on the bench in the second half, nursing his heavily bandaged left foot. With tears streaming down his cheeks, McCollum said something to the player sitting next to him. I’m not an expert lip reader, but the TV commentators agreed that it looked every bit like he said “I broke my foot.”
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If that is the case, the injury will derail one of the greatest senior seasons the NCAA has ever seen. McCollum was leading the nation in scoring, bringing a 25.7 points per game average into Richmond.
The ramifications may be even worse than the loss of a senior season. More than 30 professional scouts were in Virginia to evaluate McCollum, who is listed by DraftExpress as the 12th-best NBA prospect in their top 100 list. He’s the top player listed as a point guard. McCollum is known as a dynamite scorer, so a chance to prove his ballhandling abilities in front of scouts would have likely moved him up a few draft boards. Going lame before he really had his shot at breaking open “Havoc” is a bitter pill to swallow. If the injury ends his season, it’s devastating.
An official doctor’s report will shed more light on the severity of McCollum’s injury, but if it is, indeed a broken foot that ends his senior season, there may be much more than this year’s campaign at risk.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.