Story by Blake Sandlin
Senior forward Anthony Smith will miss the remainder of the men’s basketball season after suffering a non-contact ankle injury in practice, Head Coach Matt McMahon announced on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
Smith suffered the injury during Tuesday’s practice, and will have surgery on his ankle on Thursday, Dec. 6. McMahon said he recognized the magnitude of the injury immediately after it occurred.
“He’s one of, if not the toughest guys that I’ve had the opportunity to coach. He’s such a warrior, and he only knows one speed, and that’s full throttle. Rarely is he gonna be one to get injured or show any signs of being hurt, and once he went down you knew it wasn’t good. Like I said, it was non-contact. Didn’t step on anyone’s foot; wasn’t jumping. It was just kind of a fluke deal, really.”
Smith, who has started in all five of the Racers’ games this season, has done a lot with a little. While only averaging 18.2 minutes per game this year, Smith has averaged 7.6 ppg and 5 rpg. His 16 rebounds (3.2 per game) through five games is tied for 50th in the country.
Despite the loss, McMahon emphasized that his team’s focus won’t change.
“Nothing changes for us,” McMahon said. “We’re just going to keep working hard, work to get better and have fun playing. Obviously we’ll miss everything that Anthony brings to our team. He’s a team captain, a leader and just a relentless worker. He sets the tone everyday in our practices for how you come to work.”
McMahon is hopeful Smith’s injury so early in the season will allow him to claim a medical redshirt, granting him a full season of play next year.
“Obviously it’d be a slam dunk that he would get the medical hardship having only played five games,” McMahon said.
The Racers will likely lean on the services of freshman forward KJ Williams and junior forward Darnell Cowart, who have averaged 17.3 minutes per game combined to this point.
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