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McDonald Injures Knee; Out Indefinitely

UNC has confirmed that Leslie McDonald tore his right ACL.

Here is Roy Williams statement via Inside Carolina.

"I just hate this for Leslie and his family," says head coach Roy Williams."He's worked so hard this off-season and he told me he was really playing well.

"We'll certainly support him as he works to get back on the floor, but we will miss his play on both ends of the court."

Here is the backstory which began late Thursday night with a flurry of tweets stating that Leslie McDonald had gone down with a knee injury at the NC Pro-Am and was unable to put weight on it immediately after it happened. Subsequent to that news came reports McDonald had left the gym at NCCU under his own power. McDonald himself announced that he was fine via his own Twitter feed seemingly putting the issue to rest.

Fast forward to this evening where WRAL reported that McDonald had torn his ACL based on a report from CBS Sports' Gary Parrish who had spoken to McDonald's father. Prior to that UNC officials had confirmed McDonald was on crutches Friday which indicated the previously reported knee injury was likely very serious. Once the reports began piling up on Twitter, UNC confirmed the injury.

At this point UNC is saying McDonald is out indefinitely. I imagine the medical staff are still evaluating the injury and looking at the options. The standard treatment for a torn ACL is surgery to repair that and other damage they may have occurred. The typical recovery time following surgery is six to nine months. Using Bobby Frasor's knee injury during the 2007-08 season as a gauge, Frasor was injured on December 27, 2007 in the second half versus Nevada. He had surgery and did not play 5-on-5 basketball again until early July 2008 though he was jumping off balconies into swimming pools by May. Assuming McDonald's recovery goes the same route it would be February at the earliest before he is cleared to return to action. Even if the timetable turns out to be shorter, it would have to be in the 3-4 months range for him to see the court this season.

First and foremost, this really sucks for McDonald who I think was ready to have a Danny Green-like sixth man impact during his junior season. He showed signs of being a good all around player and his three point shot was bound to be more consistent. If you are looking for the upside, assuming McDonald makes a full recovery he will be around for two more season. With the NBA attrition UNC see year in and year out, this could be a good thing down the line. However right now it hurts.

Assuming McDonald is lost for the season his  minutes will likely fall to freshman P.J. Hairston since Reggie Bullock will like play the wing forward slot. Hairston is nursing an injury of his own from the Pro-Am having suffered a bruised wrist from dunking the ball too hard. UNC is still two deep at the two and three even with the loss of McDonald though losing his experience is a tough hit. Obviously we will delve deeper into what the team looks like once we know McDonald's prognosis.

One more note. Spare me any comments about ending the NC Pro-Am or barring UNC players from playing in it. Please. These guys are going to play ball. If McDonald is not in a gym at NCCU then he is playing pick-up in the Dean Dome with The Carolina Family. Injuries happen and every time anyone plays any sport they risk injury. These guys are basketball players which means they play a lot. So whether it is the Pro-Am or five-on-five with Blue Steel and the alums, the risk of injury is the same.