NCAA Basketball: Injury Report (The return of Theo Pinson)

Dec 7, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guards Theo Pinson (left) and Joel Berry II watch their team during the first half against the Davidson Wildcats at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

What NCAA basketball injuries should we keep an eye on as we head into the weekend?

We’re just a week and a half into conference play, but we’ve already seen significant injuries sweep through the nation.

Ben Carter is out for the season for Michigan State, while Gavin Schilling also suffered a knee injury and may not return until late in the year, if at all. Harry Giles just recently returned for the Blue Devils and isn’t 100 percent just yet. Ray Smith tore his ACL for the third time in three years for Arizona. And teams are being dealt serious injuries on a daily basis.

These are just some of the injuries that have had a massive impact on certain programs across the country.

Obviously, teams, coaches and players want to avoid injuries at all costs. However, it doesn’t always work like that. Some rosters will get ravaged by them, while others will be pristine clean.

Duke was playing with six guys just a month and a half ago, but now the Blue Devils have all three of their freshman back (even though Giles and Marques Bolden are still playing limited minutes). Meanwhile, Michigan State has two key players who are currently on the sideline and Miles Bridges is on a minutes limit.

This is why it’s important to look at the key injuries in college hoops every week. This week, we will continue with five updates.

March 18, 2016; Spokane , WA, USA; California Golden Bears center Kingsley Okoroh (22) and center Kameron Rooks (44) react during the 77-66 loss against Hawaii Rainbow Warriors during the second half of the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kameron Rooks is back in the lineup

7’2″ center Kameron Rooks underwent left knee surgery (a scope in particular) at the end of November and missed 10 straight games from November 27th to January 1st.

However, the junior finally returned to California’s lineup on Thursday evening against UCLA. He only played one minute, but it was a significant step in the right direction for him to even see court time.

The reason this is a big deal for the Bears is that Rooks provides Cal with size, strength and rim protection. Even though he may be limited for the next few games, there are not many players that stand over seven-foot in the NCAA, never mind 7’2″.

With Rooks back, Ivan Rabb can focus more on the scoring and rebounding aspects of his game rather than helping Kingsley Okoroh protect the bucket. This also gives Cal two seven-footers who they can turn to at any given time.

Rooks is averaging 5.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and is shooting 57 percent from the field so far this season. Cuonzo Martin will certainly welcome that production back to Berkeley.

Dec 3, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Jordan Woodard (10) looks to pass as Wisconsin Badgers guard Zak Showalter (3) defends during the first half at Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

No timetable for Jordan Woodard’s return

Oklahoma’s best player and leading scorer Jordan Woodard has missed the last three games due to an unspecified leg injury.

And worse than the fact that Woodard hasn’t played, is the fact that there is no timetable for his return.

From FanRag Sports:

“There’s not a specific timeline for his recovery,” Kruger told FanRag Sports on Thursday. “We’re hoping sooner rather than later. We need to get him healthy.”

The 6’0″, 187 pound senior guard is averaging 17.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, while shooting 43 percent from the field overall and 43 percent from beyond the arc. He is also hitting 82 percent of his free throws and is snagging 2.1 steals per game.

But most importantly, Woodard is the face and centerpiece of the Sooners’ offense. Oklahoma has a ton of young talented pieces that flank the senior, but Christian James and Khadeem Lattin are role players who fit better playing alongside Woodard rather than as alpha dogs.

Woodard is the most experienced player on the Sooners’ roster, as he was one of the main pieces on Kruger’s 2015-16 team that made the Final Four. He was the second leading scorer on that squad (beyond Buddy Hield), but has stepped into his new role with relative ease this season.

Oklahoma is in danger of being the worst team in a loaded Big 12. The Sooners are 6-7 and they have yet to win a game in conference play, losing to Baylor at home and TCU on the road. If Woodard doesn’t come back soon, they have no shot at even making a postseason tournament.

Jan 1, 2017; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal forward Reid Travis (22) during the second half of the game against Arizona Wildcats at Maples Pavilion. The Arizona Wildcats defeated the Stanford Cardinal 91-52. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Reid Travis out indefinitely with shoulder injury

Like the Oklahoma Sooners, the Stanford Cardinal are struggling greatly this season. They currently have an 8-7 record and have lost to nearly every above average team that they’ve played.

And now they’re going to be without their best player for an indefinite amount of time.

Before the Cardinal lost to USC on Thursday night, the program announced that junior forward Reid Travis will be out indefinitely with a right shoulder injury.

Travis is the Cardinal’s leading scorer and top rebounder, as he averages 17.5 points and grabs 9.6 rebounds per game. He also shoots 57 percent from the field overall and knows his role within the offensive system.

Stanford was unlikely to make the tournament even with Travis in the lineup, but what’s more concerning is the fact that the big man cannot stay healthy. He missed 22 games last season due to a leg injury and that greatly impacted how Stanford played for the remainder of the season.

With Travis out, the Cardinal went 10-12 and their poor record (and no postseason appearance) eventually resulted in head coach Johnny Dawkins being fired. Jerod Haase certainly won’t be canned after his first year, but it’s going to be difficult to judge the progress of the program without their best player.

Nov 14, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes forward Keita Bates-Diop (33) leaves the game due to injury during the game against the Providence Friars at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes won 72-67. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Keita Bates-Diop down for the remainder of the season

Ohio State is searching for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015, but the Buckeyes, who are currently 0-2 in the Big Ten, will have to go through the rest of the season without a key piece to the puzzle.

Junior forward Keita Bates-Diop is out for the remainder of the 2016-17 campaign due to a stress fracture in his left leg. Bates-Diop suffered the injury before the season and will have to undergo surgery to repair the fracture.

From Cleveland.com: 

Matta said the hope is to redshirt Bates-Diop this year, which means he’d have two more years of eligibility left after this season.

“That’s a punch in the gut to us,” Matta said. “It is what it is, and we gotta keep moving forward. In a game like that, he can help us. But injuries are gonna happen. It looks like we’re gonna be able to redshirt him. I feel awful for Keita and I’m thankful for what he gave us in terms of playing with a lot of pain. I told him, ‘I don’t need that in my career now. I’m not gonna play a guy who’s injured.’ He’s done.”

Bates-Diop missed five games from the middle of November to the beginning of December because of “leg soreness.” It turns out that the injury is a bit more serious than we all expected.

Ohio State has five players averaging more points per game, but that doesn’t mean Bates-Diop isn’t one of the most important players on the team. In fact, the junior is arguably the most versatile player on the roster.

He can guard numerous positions defensively and can impact the game in multiple different ways. Bates-Diop is averaging 9.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists, while shooting an efficient 50 percent from the field. He’s also averaging 1.3 blocks per game and shoots 71 percent from the free throw strike.

The Buckeyes will have a rough rest of the way without Bates-Diop. But at least some good news comes out of this season ending injury: Bates-Diop could be in Columbus for two more campaigns.

Apr 2, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Theo Pinson (1) and North Carolina Tar Heels guard Kenny Williams (24) react after the game against the Syracuse Orange in the 2016 NCAA Men’s Division I Championship semi-final game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Theo Pinson to return on Saturday night

The game of the weekend lies in Raleigh, where the North Carolina Tar Heels and North Carolina State Wolfpack are going to battle in an ACC rivalry game.

In addition to seeing Joel Berry II versus Dennis Smith Jr., us viewers will also get to see the return of versatile guard Theo Pinson.

Pinson hasn’t played yet this season due to a broken foot and he could be on a minutes limit until he gets into rhythm and basketball shape.

Regardless, the 6’6″ junior is a huge midseason addition for the Tar Heels. Pinson is a great defender (he can guard multiple positions), brings more athleticism to this UNC roster, provides quality passing and is an effective rebounder.

He doesn’t shoot the ball well from beyond the arc, but as evident by his numbers from last year (4.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 0.6 steals in less than 20 minutes), he can be a key contributor off the bench (at least to begin his return) for Roy Williams.

North Carolina has only lost three games so far this season despite not having Pinson in the lineup. Remember, Pinson was one of the starters on last season’s National Championship team, so just think how dangerous the Tar Heels can be in the ACC with him back.

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