The news that many in the college basketball world feared on Saturday evening came to pass on Sunday, as Lehigh head coach Dr. Brett Reed revealed that star guard C.J. McCollum will miss anywhere from eight to ten weeks with a broken bone in his left foot.
McCollum suffered a broken fifth metatarsal in the first half of the Mountain Hawks’ 59-55 loss at VCU, and was seen on camera upon his return to the bench in the second half telling a teammate that he broke his foot.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Through 12 games the Patriot League Player of the Year averaged 23.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game for Lehigh, who is looking to return to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row and the third time in four seasons.
The question now, with conference play beginning next Saturday against Holy Cross (Lehigh plays Muhlenberg on Tuesday night), is whether McCollum’s injury means that the Mountain Hawks can forget about winning the Patriot League regular season title.
While this news makes a Bucknell team led by Mike Muscala the favorite to win the title (the Bison won the regular season title last year but fell to Lehigh in the Patriot League title game), ruling out Dr. Reed’s team out would be a mistake.
Lehigh has three other players averaging double figures with senior forward Gabe Knutson (15.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg) leading the way, and with he, senior forward Holden Grenier and junior guard Mackey McKnight the Mountain Hawks have plenty of experience (not to mention skill) to call on.
With McCollum sitting out due to an ankle injury Lehigh hung 90 points on North Texas on December 20, shooting 48.5% from the field (and 11-of-23 from three) and assisting on 21 of their 32 made field goals. Knutson (28 points) and McKnight (25) led the way offensively on that night.
If McCollum’s recovery time is closer to eight weeks than ten the senior could return in time for the Patriot League tournament, which begins on March 6.
But with the NBA future that McCollum is projected to have don’t expect anyone involved to risk that if he isn’t 100%.
“We are going to make sure C.J. is fully recovered and will place the highest priority on quality of care and be certain the injury has healed properly before full activity is resumed,” Dr. Reed said according to Nicole Auerbach of USA Today.