Verdell Jones suffered what looked to be an ugly knee injury in Indiana’s first round win over Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament.
Going full speed on a fast break, Jones game to a jump stop at the foul line and had his right knee give out. He immediately curled into a ball and grabbed his knee, grimacing in what appeared to be excruciating pain. Everyone assumed the worst.
Thankfully, it appears as if the injury is just a sprain. (UPDATE: Or maybe not. Tom Crean was on the verge of tears on the postgame radio show talking about it. “It’s not good,” he said.)
The problem, however, is that a sprained knee — particularly one that is bad enough you need to be put into a wheel chair to leave the gym — takes a while to heal. Jones doesn’t have a while. In just over a week, the NCAA Tournament starts.
Jones is a senior. He’s been a part of the Indiana program for three years. He was on all three of Tom Crean’s teams that struggled. Any injury that forces a player to miss time is awful. When that injury happens to a senior who will, finally, be getting a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament it is just heart-breaking.
Losing Jones hurts IU. But that’s not what is important right now. Barring a fairly miraculous recovery, it looks like Jones is going to miss the one and only NCAA Tournament that he would be able to be a part of.
Not even Purdue fans would wish that on Jones.