Georgia State is the heavy favorite in the Sun Belt this season as the back court duo of Ryan Harrow and R.J. Hunter returns from a team that came a game away from making the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
The Panthers became even more intriguing this offseason with the addition of Louisville transfer and guard Kevin Ware. Ware was a medical redshirt at Louisville last season after dealing with the aftermath of a gruesome leg injury and is cleared to return this season at Georgia State.
But head coach Ron Hunter and the Panthers will have to play for a bit without Ware as the junior guard suffered a high ankle sprain in practice, according to Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
While a high ankle sprain isn’t a season-ending injury, it can be a lingering injury that is difficult to fully recover from. Given Ware’s injury history, a high ankle sprain could result in him missing a good chunk of time.
Ware’s injury might not cause him to miss many games — if any — but Georgia State has high aspirations this season and needs Ware if they hope to maximize them. This will be an injury to monitor over the next few weeks as we get closer to the season.
Kevin Ware played a grand total of 53 minutes over nine games with Louisville this past season. Following a Dec. 17 win over Missouri State, Ware was shut down for the season, as he was continuing to recover from a gruesome compound leg fracture he suffered during the 2013 Elite 8 game against Duke.
In April, Ware transferred to Georgia State, citing the need for a fresh start. This summer, Ware received word that he would receive a waiver making him eligible to play immediately for one of the top mid-major programs in the country. The transfer guard was able to suit up for the Panthers during their foreign trip to Costa Rico, though, his debut with his new school did come with a brief scare, as Georgia State head coach told Jeff Goodman of ESPN that Ware was clipped from behind during the team’s first game.
“He hit the wall, went down, stayed down for a little bit, and the entire team froze,” Hunter told Goodman. “I was scared to death when he didn’t move at first — but then he got up and sprinted back.”
The 6-foot-2 Ware will be part of a very talented perimeter for Georgia State, along with R.J. Hunter — 18.3 points per game, 40 percent 3-point shooting — and Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow — 17.8 points and 4.2 assists per game. The high-scoring duo led the Panthers to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament title game, only to have their NCAA tournament title hopes dashed by an upset delivered by Elfrid Payton and Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Ragin’ Cajuns do return forward Shawn Long, but the Panthers should be heavy favorites to top the conference standings once again.
Georgia State opens its season against Tennessee Temple on Nov. 14, three days before an early season test against Iowa State in Ames.
[h/t Jonathan Lintner, Courier-Journal]
Indiana Pacers star Paul George suffered a gruesome leg injury last night while defending a fast break during USA Basketball’s televised scrimmage in Las Vegas.
The injury to George — which you can read about at Pro Basketball Talk, without any photos or videos of the horrific injury — instantly drew comparisons to the leg injury suffered by former Louisville guard Kevin Ware during the 2013 Elite Eight against Duke.
While both leg injuries occurred in different ways — George hit the basket stanchion and Ware was closing out and challenging on a jumper — the gruesome nature of the leg injuries in high-profile, televised games made for instant comparisons on Twitter.
Ware, now at Georgia State after an offseason transfer, also instantly took to Twitter to support George’s recovery.
It’s nice to see Ware show support for George, since he’s probably one of the few people who could really place himself in his shoes at the moment.
It’s hard to say how similar the injuries to the two players actually are since news on George’s injury is still trickling in, but Ware had a very positive recovery from his March 31st leg injury. Ware had a rod inserted into his right tibia to help fix the compound fracture.
On June 20th, Ware was shooting jumpers, by September 16th, Ware was dunking, and on October 4th, Ware was cleared to return to basketball workouts.
Ware eventually returned to the court less than eight months after his injury in a November 6th exhibition win over Pikeville, as he knocked down a three-pointer in his limited minutes, and Ware also played in Louisville’s regular season opener against Cornell on November 15th, scoring five points in 13 minutes of action.
The junior guard eventually redshirted the 2013-14 season, but it was encouraging to see Ware back and contributing in competitive basketball games so quickly.
Hopefully Paul George can have some positive news regarding his leg injury and make a full and healthy return to playing high-level basketball.