Scrappy NIT Preseason Tip-Off favorite Drexel gave Arizona a tight game in the Garden and topped Alabama in three overtimes, but they received some tough news on Monday night as junior guard Damion Lee is out for the season with a torn ACL, the school announced.
Lee went down during the Arizona game and a Monday MRI revealed the unfortunate news. The 6-foot-6 junior from Baltimore was averaging 13 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in his junior season, in which he played just five games, after averaging 17.1 and 5.1 last season.
This is a really unfortunate loss for Bruiser Flint and the Dragons and last year they lost senior guard Chris Fouch to a season-ending knee injury in December as well. Fouch was granted his sixth year of eligibility this season and the Dragons will have to trudge on without a potential all-conference player like Lee.
Drexel did come back to beat Alabama in three overtimes the following game without Lee, and although Bruiser Flint usually keeps a tight rotation, he has some depth this season and Major Canady, a 6-foot-4 guard, saw 19 minutes against Alabama.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.