Shortly before the team’s game against Penn State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the NC State men’s basketball program announced that it will be without two front court players. Darius Hicks, who injured his right knee during practice earlier this week, will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Also sitting out Wednesday’s game is senior Abdul-Malik Abu, who has been dealing with soreness in his right knee. Abu, who suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in the knee in October, is considered to be on a “game by game” basis with regards to his return to the court.
Hicks, a 6-foot-7 sophomore from Quitman, Mississippi, has been on the fringe of the NC State front court rotation for much of his time on campus. This season he played an average of 8.5 minutes per game, accounting for 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per night. Hicks, who did not play in the Battle 4 Atlantis last weekend, scored ten points and grabbed five rebounds in a win over Bryant on November 14.
As for Abu, the 6-foot-8 senior from Boston was expected to a key cog in the Wolfpack front court attack after averaging 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as a junior. Abu did not make his 2017-18 debut until the Battle 4 Atlantis, playing 17 minutes and tallying eight points and eight rebounds in NC State’s win over then-No. 2 Arizona.
With Abu out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, the production of senior Lennard Freeman and sophomore Omer Yurtseven will be of even greater importance for the Wolfpack. Freeman is averaging 12.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season, with Yurtseven accounting for 11.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per night.